Owning the rights to reproduce a seminal piece of design is a coup for any retailer, however, it would be unwise to rely purely on sales of the original versions as this drastically limits the potential market. A popular solution employed by many manufacturers is to sporadically release alternative versions, often in limited edition runs, offering an opportunity to own a classic design in a version that is different to that which everyone else already has.
Often the alteration is as simple as a change of colour or upholstery, giving a sense of novelty to a familiar form.
The anniversary of an iconic design’s creation provides a perfect opportunity to rerelease it in a new version, perhaps with a reference to the age of the work or the period in which it was originally designed. Many of the classic designs from the 1950s and 60s have recently been reissued in new colourways.
Some manufacturers choose to collaborate with a well known designer to bring a sense of contemporaneity to their products. Stelton offered Sir Paul Smith the chance to rework Arne Jacobsen’s Cylinda-Line tableware bsed on the following straightforward brief: “Dear Sir Paul, please have a look at Arne Jacobsen’s world-famous Cylinda-Line, and give it your own look to celebrate Stelton’s 50th anniversary”.
Technology based products can often become redundant as people adopt new and improved hardware and software solutions, but some designs are popular enough to merit an update of their functionality such as the release of the Brionvega RR226 – based on the original RR126 designed in 1965 – which incorporates CD and DVD players.
While most reissues are little more than stylistic tweaking for the purpose of generating new marketing opportunities, occasionally a project emerges that aims slightly higher. The collaboration between Coca-Cola and Emeco was based on demonstrating potential applications for a new recycled PET plastic. 111 Coke bottles are needed to make the chair, which required the development of an advanced moulding technique. This project shows how great designs with lasting appeal can be refreshed in a purposeful and innovative manner to create something that looks like the original, but is, in some ways, better.