A few days after we broke the news that Home Depot had been copying designers’ work to create the renderings it used to sell product online, the company has issued a formal apology and has begun taking down the offending images.
“We’ve looked into this and found that there were issues with the use of images for inspiration and creating content. We apologize, and we’re removing the images and reviewing our process to help ensure this doesn’t happen again,” a representative for Home Depot told Business of Home. “We want to generate good relationships with these industry experts and we truly respect their talent.”
At press time, most of the copycat renderings had been taken down, with a few stragglers leading to broken links on Home Depot’s website. Among the designers whose work was allegedly copied by Home Depot were Emily Henderson, Syd and Shea McGee of Studio McGee, and Sarah Sherman Samuel—all of whom have significant followings on Pinterest and Instagram, which could possibly explain how Home Depot came to source their images in the first place.
As the mini-scandal was pinging around the internet this week, many of the designers whose work had been “borrowed” were hesitant to jump into the fray, but a few took to Instagram to vent their frustration. Toronto-based designer Allison Willson shared a picture of one of her kitchen designs alongside its Home Depot doppelgänger, along with a caption calling out the hardware giant:
Shame shame shame! This is a rendering of my kitchen that @homedepot created, swapping out many custom elements with off the shelf solutions, in a effort to sell their products. This was done without my knowledge or permission, and unfortunately I’m one of many. Feeling like a small fish in a big pond, I’m posting this in a effort to provoke some thought into how businesses conduct themselves. Thank you to the creative individuals out there that work with integrity and principal. Swipe left for the original photo, captured by the talented and hardworking photographer @staceysnaps who is also affected by this #makeitrighthomedepot
Salt Lake City–based design firm Studio McGee had several of their designs mimicked by Home Depot. They slyly referenced Depotgate in a caption for a picture of an original kitchen, saying “Kinda offended Home Depot hasn’t ripped off this kitchen yet, but I still love it.”
Though Home Depot appears to be following up on its promise to take the renderings down, the issue has struck a nerve in a design community that has become all too accustomed to seeing its creative efforts “repurposed” on the internet. For some, the apology may be too little too late. “I think that if Home Depot wants to show that they mean what they say in wanting to work with designers and creatives, compensating them would go a long way to restore our good faith in their apology,” Toronto-based designer Meredith Heron told BOH. “Without compensating, it’s just PR spin and I’m a lot less likely to do business with them.”