On the Surface
It’s easy to be taken in by appearances when buying upholstered furniture. First impressions are usually based on the covering but what matters more is, in best case scenarios, a result of the science of ergonomics. The engineering of what shape(s) ideally supports the human frame; i.e. the seat and backrest of a sofa or chair.
Before committing to buying there are key points to keep in mind and it’s advantageous to have access to an interior architect or designer at this stage. Bear in mind that a large piece may dwarf other furniture in the room, whilst something too small will look odd and may feel uncomfortable. To avoid this quandary take overall measurements and check the available space, or ideally use the dimensions to make a template in order to see exactly how much of the area the proposed furniture will encompass.
So, where is the SA industry insofar as expertise, materials and design?
Ed Billes of House of Motani is enthusiastic: ‘The major branded South African manufacturers have made notable progress and closely follow the leading global design innovators. The Italians head up the field, with Germany and Switzerland close behind. But recently China has become a force internationally, by forging close alliances and partnerships with Italians and other Europeans. Yet, in SA certain top-end manufacturers have developed their design and manufacturing technology, including the use of high-tech raw materials.’
‘In international terms the South African market is rather small, though it still has a variety to offer that is surprising, says Lia Collatz of local contemporary upholstery manufacturers Comfort Creations. ‘But expertise is shrinking because youngsters don’t deem it fashionable or future-orientated to work in a factory and learn a trade, hence imports are on the up.’
Darren Postan of retailers Casarredo agrees: ‘The high-end furniture industry is deteriorating locally because our craftsman are disappearing, in addition the cost of manufacturing has risen to such an extent that is more viable to import products then to produce them. Relatively small production numbers dictate that the very advanced materials used in European manufacturing processes are not filtering through to our own manufacturing, owing to the high ?capital investment costs.’
May/June 2012 Issue
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