Lousy fakes

Philipp Mainzer goes hunting copycats of the Backenzahn stool.

Philipp Mainzer would actually most of all like to pull the teeth of all the copycats the world over to stop them from forging other products of his company. Or, over and above all economic interests, should e15 consider itself fortunate that it is copied so often – after all, philosopher Byung-Chul Han writes in his book “Shanzai. Deconstruction the Chinese Way” that in Chinese culture copying the work of a master is part of how the student learns, and thus an honor. But it is not as if all the copies of the “Backenzahn” stool come from China, nor are they so similar as to be confused for the original. As e15 shows in its installation at the imm cologne, where it presents selected copies juxtaposed to the original, like in the identification parades in the detective movies.

Stylepark: When did you first make e15’s Backenzahn?

Philipp Mainzer: The “Backenzahn” stool was designed in 1996, so we’re now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The first fake stools appeared shortly after we first launched it. The “Backenzahn” is now a real design classic, included in various museum collections.

Do you have a favorite among the copies?

No. All the copies damage e15 and the principle of copyrights.

Why is there no incisor to go with the molar?

The unmistakable shape of the “Backenzahn” derives from offcuts we had when making the “Bigfoot” table. The idea for the stool arose from the idea of sustainably using waste, as we did not want to simply throw away what was left over from making the table. The stool’s size and shape were thus pre-defined to a certain extent. By angling the legs we arrived at the characteristic shape that resembles the molar, or a “Backenzahn” in German.