Anyone knows at least three sports car, luxury watch, or haute couture fashion brands. How many high-end furniture brands do you know?
From a practical standpoint, most people purchase furniture when they are settling into a new space where they plan to stay for a while, or when they are starting a family. As this stability often happens later in life, in our modern societies, the experience of owning furniture, specifically quality pieces, is rather limited when it comes to purchasing them.
From a status standpoint, luxury home furnishing represents only 3.5% of the total spending in luxury goods worldwide. By comparison, that is six times less than jewelry and fashion and twelve times less than luxury cars.
The appeal of quality and designer furniture has been increasing especially in today’s era. We realize after months of lockdown we would have felt better with a comfortable and good looking couch!
As comfort and design aesthetic are subjective criteria to appreciate a piece of furniture, we will focus on three other aspects that can be found in most high-end furnishings:
- Composition & Materials
These characteristics are essential to understand why a furniture piece is worth its price tag and how much it could be sold for after being used.
In our blog post below we will take the example of a sofa: the number one purchase when it comes to invest into a new living room.
Composition & Materials
Whenever we speak about sofas, one central question often comes up: fabric or leather?
Do you know the difference between Split, Bonded, Pigmented, Suede, Genuine, Nubuck, Eco-Leather, Aniline or Semi-Aniline leather?
They all look like leather but only four of them are used for upholstery in the high-end furniture industry: Pigmented, Aniline, Semi-Aniline and Nubuck leather.
These top quality leathers differentiate themselves by:
- The type of hide they are using: most frequently the premium leathers, called Top Grain and Full Grain, are used.
- The treatment added to the leather: Some treatments will enhance the natural characteristics of the hide: scars, mosquito bites or grain size ; while others will purposely conceal them. These treatments will also give more or less resistance to stains, UV rays, or wear marks.
Aniline Leather presents more imperfections in color, skin grain and will show mosquito bites or scars. They are also move valuable leather.
Pigmented leather has a more clean and uniform look and typically is resistant to stains and wear marks. While 100% genuine pigmented leather are more economical than aniline ones.
Just as with leather, the world of fabrics is equally complex. Natural fibers versus synthetic fibers have an impact on the durability, maintenance, as well as look and feel of the sofa.
Natural fibers often consist of some combination of: cotton, wool, or linen. While synthetic fibers typically contain polyester or viscose.
Some of these fabrics are resistant to UV rays, abrasion, water, and stains. Furthermore, some sofas have the ability to remove their upholstered covers from the sofa structure to be machine washed or dry cleaned.
Lastly, the use of material for the sofa structure can all have an effect on the comfort, look and durability of the sofa and will also justify its price point. Sofa structures are typically constructed with:
- Metal and/or solid wood, plywood or particle boards
- Metal and solid wood are strong/durable/expensive
- Plywood and particle board are more economical, faster to produce, etc.
- Straps or springs
- Straps are labor intensive, stronger, natural material.
- Springs are factory made, faster to produce and cheaper.
- Foam or down/feather
- Foam is made of synthetic material and helps to keep the shape in place/look intact, have various levels of comfort.
- Down/feather is made of natural material, creates a “sink in” comfort but loses its shape easily.
Feather and/or down inserts give a more sink-in feeling and casual look.
Credit: Cloud sofa from Restoration Hardware.
Foam filled sofa inserts will help stretch the upholstery and make the look more sleek.
Credit: Bend sofa from B&B Italia
According to the United Nations, more than 80% of the US population is living in urban areas, which is roughly 20% more than in 1950.
This concentration of the population, in areas where spaces are smaller and more expensive than rural areas, forces some of us to find furniture that can answer several needs. Perhaps it is a sofa that becomes a bed, a dining table that expands, or a stool that is also usable as a table.
Our living habits have also changed over time. When spending more than half of your day working, relaxation and entertainment are not only a plus, they become a necessity.
As our living habits and interior spaces evolve year after year, top sofa manufacturers constantly innovate to answer their client’s demand integrating technologies in, what might seem at first glance, only a sofa.
Here is an overview of some of the main functions that makes these sofas more unique:
- Up & Down Backrests
- Sliding Backrests or Seats
- Reclining Seats
- Foldable Armrests
- Modular Units
- Sleeping Capacity
- Tray, Tables or Cup Holders
- Suitable for Outdoor
Some of these sofas now also integrate remotely activated mechanisms, batteries, USB ports, phone induction chargers or even speakers.
How can we select such beautiful & practical sofas without mentioning their inspiration, their craftsmanship or their importance in the industry?
There is a reason why most high-end furniture is produced in the USA or Europe: their unique know-how.
Below is a quick timeline of some of today’s top brands by year of creation:
- 1860: Ligne Roset (France)
- 1872: Fritz Hansen (Denmark)
- 1905: Herman Miller (USA)
- 1912: Poltrona Frau (Italy)
- 1960: Roche Bobois (France)
- 1966: B&B Italia (Italy)
Only with these six brands, we are speaking about 645 years of experience in furniture making.
Ancient, hand-crafted methods are today mixed with the latest technologies to achieve results that can last for generations. Some of these brands carry collections that have been on the market for over 10 or even 50 years and still look ahead of their time. Purchasing one of these iconic pieces is a guarantee that it will survive over time as their quality has been well tested and spare parts are often available from the manufacturer (should they be necessary).
Haute couture designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Missoni, Kenzo Takada, as well as top industrial designers like Philippe Stark, Sacha Lakic, Ora Ito and superstar architects such as Le Corbusier, Eero Saarinen, Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid, have designed or dressed collections for these top brands, further increasing the status of their design icons.
Heydar Aliyef Center in Baku, Azerbaijan (Bottom).
Credit & Designer: Zaha Hadid
Bubble sofa for Roche Bobois (right).
Credit & Designer: Sacha Lakic
Design, composition and materials, functionalities or history all have an influence on the sofa’s value. When combined with the popularity and availability of the collection, they help to determine a more accurate resale value.
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