This Thing Looks Like That Thing: Sean John Rips Off Pentagram

If you ever want to impress a design nerd, tell them you love Pentagram. Pentagram is one of the world’s foremost design firms, and home to design celebs like Paula Scher and Michael Beirut. Despite doing work for Saks, Alexander McQueen and Tiffany, Pentagram’s latest fashion collaboration wasn’t their doing. How so, you ask? P. Diddy totally ripped off one of their designs for a Sean John tee.

In 2007, Beirut commissioned graphic artist Marian Bantjes to design a poster for a Yale School of Architecture lecture series called “Seduction”. Said Bantjes: “I created this very sensual, almost writhing type with letterforms nestled into each other, that combines organic curves with architectural straight lines, and those lines thin out to very fine needles which loop back and pierce the type.”

About a year ago, Sean John reappropriated the design so that “Seduction” now read “Sean Jean”. Bantjes was recently alerted to the striking similarity between the two designs, and took to Twitter with her complaint about the $28 t-shirt. Though it’s longer available on the Sean John website, you can still purchase it on Amazon. And Bantjes is pissed:

Custom lettering is not a font. You can’t buy it and type words into a computer and have them come out in a style. It’s a drawing, and the t-shirt is an exact replica of the original, although some of the letters have been moved around and repeated to say ‘Sean John’ instead of ‘Seduction.’ If it were simply wriggly type with some extensions coming from it, but not exactly the same forms, then we could say it was ‘riffing’ or ‘inspired by,’ but the artwork has been lifted exactly, so it is a rip off.

Beirut is bit more pragmatic about the issue:

In every fashion design studio I’ve ever visited, there are overpopulated pin-up boards just overflowing with ‘inspiration’ from all kinds of sources. I understand that ‘borrowing’ — even as blatant and literal as this — is hard to bring legal action against beyond cease-and-desist agreements, which which appears to have happened already. No matter what, it’s amazing that a poster for an esoteric academic conference at an Ivy League school somehow gets turned into a t-shirt endorsed by P-Diddy. What a world.

Do you think what Diddy did is wrong?


[via Co. Design]

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