This is quite an awkward subject and I've been thinking for some time how I should approach it, and get the tone right.
M&S and Aldi have now provided inspiration.
Aldi have copied the famous Colin the Caterpillar cake and M&S are, quite rightly, not pleased!
Successful designs are copied and mass produced at lower quality regularly and I'm sure we've all bought something that has been at least 'highly inspired' by a more exclusive design.
The short term deficiencies in quality of a copied cake or dress are limited in their impact but when it comes to architectural items, consequences are very long lived.
Since we first brought our Japanese Tiles to market, we've noticed a growing number of tile wholesalers supplying tiles that have been 'highly inspired' by two of our tiles, Yuki and Yohen. Our investigations found that these tiles are manufactured in China (we have samples directly from the Chinese suppliers), however the tile distributors in the UK and Europe will say they are made in Spain or Thailand, if they say anything.
What are the differences?
When you hold the tiles, you will know right away, so please make sure you get samples of both to compare.
The biggest visual difference is that the traditional Japanese production methods produce a deep glaze with complexe, rich tones and textures. The fake Yuki, looks like the pattern has been produced by a paint spray (in my opinion).
The porcelain used in Japan is of the highest quality; I don't know what the Chinese version is made of but I'm sure we can both imagine how they keep their costs low.
These tiles are stocked and sold in a 'stackem high' business model, while we are very much a niche stockist, providing a very personal service.
You will ultimately choose what is right for you or your clients but I just wanted to let you know that these are around.