Talk About a Knockoff: Chinese Furniture Store Painstakingly Mimics Ikea

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jason Lee / Reuters

Employees push a shopping cart past the information desk at the lobby of the 11 Furniture Store in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province, July 28, 2011. The Chinese characters on the right translate as "Entrance to the mall".

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But Ikea is surely not so happy with China’s 11 Furniture store, which replicates the Swedish original with surprising attention to detail.

Just weeks after five fake Apple stores caused a media uproar, a knockoff Ikea store was found in the same city of Kunming, a location now notorious for its large scale counterfeits. 11 Furniture Store takes the crown for taking the artistry of imitation to the next level.

The four-story, 10,000-square-meter building copies the original Swedish retailer from the sweeping yellow and blue color scheme to the tiniest details like the stubby pencils. The cozy-looking, Western-style mockup rooms are filled with replicas of Ikea’s signature furniture. You can even take a break at the cafeteria, which sports sleek modern furniture. The imitation 11 Furniture’s Chinese name “Shi Yi Jia Ju” has the ring of Ikea’s full Chinese name, “Yi Jia Jia Ju.”

(MORE: Fake Apple Stores Investigated. Two Ordered to Shut Down)

Is 11 Furniture taking advantage of unassuming small-town customers? Perhaps not — apparently, some customers who’ve seen real Ikea stores in Beijing and Shanghai still choose to shop there. And they know exactly what they are getting in for, trading convenience for quality.

“I thought of shipping their products from the real Ikea store by cargo, but I thought that would be too troublesome, so I came here,” Xiao Lee, a 11 Furniture customer told Reuters. “At the real Ikea, the layout is much neater and the decorations are laid out properly, you really can’t compare them.”

Knockoff designer bags and pirated DVDs are old news in China. The new trend in counterfeiting is to copy an entire brand experience, which is more about the service than the products. The Western originals are scratching their heads over how to handle them.

LIST: Top 10 Chinese Knockoffs