That's grabbed your attention! The whole issue of faking it has been on my mind for months, since I read an article in an old 1990s magazine (gleamed from a decluttering project) about the increasing popularity of plastic surgery and beauty products. It detailed all the different things you can do to alter your appearance and tried to answer the question "is it OK to fake it?"
Let's be clear. I've been thinking about 'faking it' in terms of the Interior Design & Decorating sector. I see it everywhere in a multitude of ways. I even touched on it in my last blog which discussed forced fashion cycles. Since then I've realised the sector is faking it big style. Faking it with materials, faking it with replicas and faking it in the media. And I ask myself is it OK to fake it?
To kick off what I forsee being a "Faking It" series, lets look at materials, lining and fabrics. Faking materials within interiors. What do I mean by that? I mean materials that are pretending to be another material. Ceramic that's pretending to be wood. Paper that's pretending to be stone, Porcelain that pretending to be marble. Plastic that pretending to be wood. Its gone way further than the meager plastic plant. The growth in this area seems to be very rapid of late and that's down to development in technology (digital printing for example) and advancements in material science.
To answer "is it OK to fake it?' you need to really ask "why fake it?" and what are the benefits of doing so. These come down to comparing the actual physical properties of the true and fake material, as well as the cost, the environmental impact, the durability, installation time and lastly, how good it looks. This last one is purely subjective and depends if you're trying to pretend its the true material and can pull it off. Or being open and honest and accepting it for what it is, with perhaps an impish grin.
Ceramica Sant'Agostino - Ceramic Tiles designed to mimic a wooden floor. Image Source: ceramicasantagostino.it
The rest are factual pros and cons. Above, the use of ceramic tiles to create a wooden look floor brings many advantages. You get the warm look of timber without the associated maintenance. However the properties of ceramic means that the surface will be cold to touch where as wood will be warm. The insulation properties are very different, as are the acoustics. So where and how you use the ceramic wooden floor over a real wooden floor is key to the decision in to fake it or not.
Another consideration is the construction or substrate that you are dealing with. Because homes are constructed in many ways, putting a certain material where you want to may not be possible due to the structure behind / within the space you are working in or the weight of the material. Simply, you may not be able to put what you want, where you want to. This is where faking it can work. Here, putting a real brick wall in your bedroom may not have been possible due to structural limitations. But with wall paper, they have been able to get the same look, and keep their design ideals.
One of the ultimate factors in decision making is the cost and this is where faking it really ticks boxes for many. Here I have one of those moments where I argue with myself as to whether this is OK. If you cant afford the real thing than don't pretend. It kind of cheapens what you're trying to achieve. We've all seen those fake Givenchy bags! But if its pivotal to your look, brings other benefits (i.e. made locally, is more durable) then surely its a good move. In this impressive bathroom, large porcelain tiles have been used to create the look of marble. These porcelain slabs are huge, really cements (pardon the pun) the look, creating the sense of space and luxury and are available at a snip of the price of the real thing. So cheat they did. Is it cheating? Thats a whole other discussion...
Faking it can provide answers where availability and time come into force. Quite simply, what you want to buy or replace might just not exist anymore in its original form because the manufacturing process has changed or the material changed. Similarly, where one method of construction was popular , this may have changed and alternative quicker ways of completing the same job might have been developed. These upholstery studs pay testament to both of these. Once upholsterers used to hammer in individual metal studs one at a time to produce clean finished edges on furniture pieces. Today the same effect is achieved with manufactured strips. But essentially the product is pretending or mimicking being something which it is not. So faking it, yes. You have to confess an improvement on the original design in many ways. Which one would you choose?
Which brings me onto the last and most important point of the material faking discussion, faking it in terms of minimising environmental impacts. So beautifully and ironically symbolised here by the ceramic plastic cup. Making a decision to choose an alternative material because it creates environment gains, for me, is a no brainer. The most obvious example of this is the difference between a solid timber floor and a veneered (engineered) floor. Be clear, I'm not talking about the wooden look laminates, I'm talking about a real hardwood slice on top of another substrate to create the board. Even to a trained eye, a veneer floor is hard to distinguish from a solid timber plank floor. But they are very different products that behave accordingly. Veneered wooden floors are easier to install and are normally more cost effective. Not only that, they use so much less of a precious resource, hardwood timber. In addition, because of how the veneer floor is made they are more resistant to moisture and are more stable. So can be more durable. Clearly there are good veneered timber floorboards and bad ones, like with most things, so its best to shop around and do your homework. But its shining example of an instance when faking it is really really more than just acceptable.
So is it OK to fake it? As you can see, its not that clear cut. Lots of issues and opportunities. Each 'exchange' has to be taken on it's own merit. But as a general rule, I tend to say "If its saving something, other than face, then it has to be a good thing!"
Which will bring me onto the next topic, "Faking it - the rise of replicas"