Design Indaba News

#DesignIndaba2017: Cool creators forgive their copycats

Dubbed as "the creators of cool", Dutch artists and filmmakers, Lernert & Sander (Lernert Engelberts and Sander Plug) had the Design Indaba audience in stitches with their presentation, "Copycats". At the same time, we were also blown away by their authentic concepts and brilliant campaign executions. In fact, their work is so insanely cool that it's been ripped off and stolen time and time again.
Why are the Dutch always so darn good at what they do? Whether it's conceptualising, presenting, designing, or creating amazing architecture, there's a lot we can learn from them.

With their cheeky sense of humour, they showed us some of the work they've produced over the past ten years and then, of course, the work of the unoriginal copycats out there (who they obviously named and shamed).

Between each of these naming and shamings, they reminded us, or rather themselves, that they're not bitter about copycats (some of them were "cute steals" they say), and that forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That's why it's such a powerful weapon. - Nelson Mandela

Lernert & Sander started off in fashion. They were commissioned by a fashion festival to create a work and decided to source all the clothing from the lost and found boxes at darkrooms (a meeting place for gay men).

Apparently, gay men always seem to lose things when they go to dark rooms. They did a fashion shoot with these items, and had an exhibition at the fashion festival where they placed tags on the items stating that "if this is yours, you may have it back". Little did they know that one of these photos would be stolen by an actual darkroom for an ad...


The design duo launched a perfume called Everything in 2013 after realising just how many new fragrances were released in 2012. Did we really need all these new perfumes?

They started collecting all the samples and mixed it all together. Everything literally contained all the fragrances launched in 2012. As time went on, some copycat stumbled across their picture and thought it would make a lovely story front - even though they didn't really sell everything...

Here are some more excellent works they've produced that have been copied in one way or another by some random "designers":

Chocolate Bunny






Ending off their talk, they had a choir come on stage to sing a song to all their copycats out there:

You can enjoy the lyrics here, and have a look at more awesome stuff Lernert & Sander is getting up to such as this cool (original) cat:

Stay cool. Stay original.

For more, visit our Design Indaba special section for all the latest coverage!

About Ilse van den Berg

Ilse is a group editor at, the first-choice B2B news site in Africa. She is the former editor of Marketing & Media Africa at and is also a contributing lifestyle and travel writer. In her spare time, she also does some freelance writing & editing (when she's not surfing, hiking, or travelling). Email or find her on Twitter.