10 May, 2011

Gathering Intel-Build a chair

by Lisa Peck, ASID
I recently attending an event sponsored by Kravet Furniture where they build a chair in front of an audience to allow designers to get a better understanding of how to judge the quality of upholster furniture and all of the hand work that goes into a piece of furniture.
They started with the frame built and some of the upholstery started but explained the frame and process up to this point.
And we watched as an expert upholsterer worked to upholster the chair and explained the process.
Along with the process they explained how the Kravet factory has increased their commitment to green manufacturing processes.
Kravet is one of the manufacturers who have kept their manufacturing of upholstered pieces in North Carolina including the wood frames of chairs.
IMG_2044The finished chair was beautiful and I left with a better understanding of how Kravet builds chairs. Here is a quick list of things  you should look for and consider when selecting a piece of upholstered furniture.
1) Is the piece eight-way hand tied? One way to find out is to run your hand around the muslin at the underside of the seat to feel for the round shapes of the springs. Some contemporary designs have to slim a profile to allow room for the eight-way hand tied springs. Ask are these tied or looped. Manufacturers can refer to hand-looped as hand-tied but this is not an equal construction.
2) Is there any cardboard used in the piece? Push in on the upholstery below the arm and top of the back. You should not feel a bounce back from cardboard and you should not be able to push the fabric in more than a little. A properly made chair of sofa will have tightly pulled muslin below the foam or down and final upholstery.
3) Ask about the construction of the cushion and consider whether you like the way it sits. All cushions are not equal. Down-filled, foam wrapped with down, a spring-cushion wrapped with foam and then down. They all have pros and cons. Furniture varies in how they use theses options. Find out before you buy a piece of furniture how it is constructed and how it must be maintained. Here's a tip...no matter what the composition of your you cushions turn them regularly and move from the most frequently occupied space on the sofa to the least.
4) How is the frame constructed? Is the frame hardwood? Hardwood laminate? How are the joints constructed? Dovetail joints reinforced with mechanical fasteners? Perhaps more important...does the manufacturer supply a warranty on the frame. Kravet has a lifetime frame warranty...their confidence in offering this is an indication of their confidence in the way they construct their chairs.
5) Where are all of the parts of the chair manufactured? Does the manufacturer have a commitment to green processes? Ask for specifics on what they have done to green their process. Details will give you a better idea of not just the quality of the chair but if  you can feel good about the value it represents.

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