Craftsman and Artisan Sculpted Furnishings
Why they make a difference
At LJID, we look for the best quality furnishings for our clients, and commissioning a handmade piece is a terrific experience. We start by sourcing the finest quality materials and construction for our given budget. This is the kind of collaborative experience that I look forward to. A work of art or a piece of furniture that we create is something that can be passed on as an heirloom.
Most years I attend home furnishings industry trade shows in Las Vegas and High Point North Carolina, giving me great opportunities to meet with manufacturers and craftsmen and discuss their work and the vision behind their new collections. The insight and information on the quality of the materials they use in construction educate and inform me while keeping me up-to-date with the best options for our clients.
While there, I am eager not only to learn about the craftsmanship but to check out how that chair or how that sofa feels. Is it comfortable? Is the pitch of the seat too far back or is it just right to support someone sitting for a period of time?
The chair featured here is from Ambella Home. It shows the use of an 8-way hand-tied coil springs system, an age-old method of counter-tensioning each of the steel springs inside the chair with a jute cord in an intricate network of hand-tied knots. Each spring is braced to draw support and share the load across the entire network. This makes the furniture incredibly durable, resistant to sagging, and comfortable.
This technique is considered the best for seating as it will ensure that your springs will not come loose for decades. Kiln-dried maple is used most often, free of knots, bark, and any compromising defects. Woods to avoid in construction are softer woods like pine. Engineered wood is a newer introduction in frame construction.
The wood here is typically a hardwood construction such as maple, oak, cedar, or cherry, known for its strength and stability.
Created by pressing wood chips and glue together, engineered wood can be used successfully in some furniture applications. Still, it is not recommended for seating frames as it lacks the weight-bearing durability and stability of a hardwood frame. While engineered wood frames can be priced slightly lower, they are commonly considered by furniture insiders as “disposable” because they wear out and often end up in landfills.
The craftsmen at Ambella use wood dowels in the construction, which adds stability because they move with the frame. In a good-quality frame, the joints are glued, dowelled, and screwed. The corners may be further strengthened by the addition of reinforcing blocks for extra support and strength.
You will want to check for or add upholstery lining to the underside. It helps form the final shape, keeps dust out of the fill materials, and prolongs the life of the outer upholstery fabric. It also makes it easy to reupholster.
The chair and cushion graphics below are from Lee Industries and are great illustrations detailing how fine furniture is constructed.
The main types of upholstery padding are cotton; foam and dacron; foam and feather down; and horsehair. Fine antique furniture will use horsehair because of its durability and springiness. It can last for centuries and you can wash and re-wash it when reupholstering. It is the most expensive upholstery padding and is only used in a few factories in Europe these days.
In modern-day cushion construction, we have plenty of high-quality options from which to choose based on seating preferences, wellness considerations, and price points. The most common are high-density foam wrapped with polyester fiber or feather down. You will want to consider allergies before choosing the filling materials. For example, some people are allergic to latex, or to down.
Buying the finest seat interior and fabrics will help the furniture cushions hold their shape.
Several environmentally conscious businesses build sustainable furniture and upholstery using natural, non-toxic, and locally sourced sustainable materials.
The Witford showroom at the Pacific Design Center showcases many fine pieces from several carefully selected manufacturers on their showroom floor. Lee Industries‘ line of naturalLEE furnishings includes chairs, sofas, sectionals, beds, dining, and outdoor furniture. They use soy-based renewable seat cushions, padding made with a soy-based polyol, recycled fibers made from clear and white plastic bottles, regenerated fibers and wood from certified sustainable forests, and bonded with soy-based resin. Their springs are 80% recycled metal, and their finishes are all very low VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Some fine artisans will bench make custom furniture using green products. One such custom enterprise is Eco Balanza. Their craftsmen use natural and organic cotton, wool, FSC-certified wood, and solvent-free adhesives, and latex to construct pieces that carry a lifetime guarantee on every piece they build.
Another example is Quintus Home, based in Los Angeles and represented throughout the country.
They have their own workroom and create their own line of high-end furniture pieces like this sectional design called "Trista" designed by Elisa Carlucci. I had this sectional built for one of my clients with custom fabric and dimensions and it came out great. I love working on custom furniture pieces, it extends my creative education and design skills.
As a design professional, I know I have done my best when each room I create is infused with the timeless appeal of great design and remarkable craftsmanship, as seen in the architectural elements, the furnishings, and the finishing touches.
That’s what makes a space really special.
If you are thinking of remodeling or starting the process of building a new home, don't hesitate to get in touch with us, as we would love to help create the lifestyle you have only imagined until now.
Header Images: ECO BALANZA and ©PAUL STEVEN - STOCKADOBE.COM