Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
At least that's what Phoenix-based metal artist Brandon Williams posted on the Facebook page of his company, Modfire, after noting that his signature fireplace design was ripped off by retail giant Target.
On Thursday, March 6, Modfire posted a photo of a the Steel Chiminea from Target's Threshold line on Facebook The product bears a striking resemblance to Williams' iconic Urbanfire, a modern mid-century-style fireplace that won the 2011 Dwell on Design award for Best Furniture and Accessory.
While the original Urbanfire typically sells on the Modfire website for a starting price of $1,350, Target's Threshold Steel Chiminea is currently available online and in stores for $99.99.
On Monday, March 10, Williams sent Jackalope Ranch a Facebook message saying:
"As a small business owner, I'm stunned. Our Modfire is made in America, sourced locally and we handcraft each and every one. When I designed the Modfire I was charting new territory, crafting a design that was completely original and we have been rewarded with allocates and awards from the design community at large. We have worked tirelessly to build a wonderful brand around Modfire So to see Target simply steal my design instead of using their in-house talent to make a budget priced chiminea, well that undermines the very foundation of the American Dream. I would have be elated if Target had reached out to me and asked me to design an affordable fireplace they could distribute it to their customers. It's the issue of simply stealing the design out of laziness or greed that has me appalled."
On March 10, Modfire shared a side-by-side comparison image of the two products and asked that its followers share the photo, too.
While this image has been circulating through the design community online, Target PR representative Kate Lohmuller Decker says that Modfire has yet to contact the big box retailer, writing in a statement on Monday, March 10:
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"At this time, Target has not been contacted by the company regarding this matter. Target has a deep appreciation for great design and we're proud of the work that's led by our Product Design and Development team. It always has been - and continues to be - a policy of Target to respect the intellectual property rights of others."
When asked by Jackalope Ranch if he or anyone on the Modfire team had contacted Target directly, Williams responded via Facebook message, "I have some champions of our product, Linda at Modestics, and Chris at Just Modern have been sending this viral through social media. I know Linda reached out to Target, but no response."
Williams is currently out of the country but says he plans on contacting Target when he returns.