As a person who loves chairs, I’ve often been curious about what’s underneath all that yardage. Other than a wood frame and some batting to make it comfortable, what is it that really supports the person sitting in it. When sporting the same fabric, why is it that one chair can have a $500 price tag, while another sells for $2,500?
So when the opportunity presented itself to participate in the Kravet “Build a Chair” event, my response was “Sign me up”!
From the raw-frame beginning phase of upholstery to the finale of the finished product, in a three hour time frame, we witnessed the “behind-the-scenes” stages of what goes into making a quality piece of upholstery … lunch included!
Here’s what we learned:
Kravet’s chair frames are made from solid, 14-ply hardwood construction.
8-way hand-tied springs are made from recycled steel, and are the Cadillac of the industry. Each spring has eight knots; hence, 8-way hand-tied.
Outside bottom of chair exposing the webbing underneath.
*Tip: When shopping for upholstery, reach underneath the bottom to confirm there are springs in it.
Batting is positioned underneath the seat roll (area where the knees bend) to provide more comfort and add longevity to the chair.
No discomfort here.
With more expensive chairs, the same chair fabric is placed on the decking (top part of chair seat) and runs all the way to the back. Referred to as self-lining, this is typically not done on inexpensive furniture. The fabric will only run partially back, and then be finished off with another fabric. Not to say this makes a piece cheap, just a less expensive way of fabricating it.
Batting is placed on the arms prior to the fabric covers to provide extra comfort and support.
Side batting placed onto the chair. More cushion = more comfort.
The cushioned arm covers are fabricated by another vendor outside of Kravet in order to reduce the lead time (how long it takes to get something).
The fabric arm covers are placed on the chair by Master Upholsterer, Steve.
A third generation upholsterer, this guy knows what he’s doing, and makes it look easy.
Time for the back seat batting. It’s really taking shape now.
A “string” of metal crimps are put into place prior to adding the welt (often referred to as piping). A small welt, as shown here, is called a pencil welt.
Steve begins the tedious process of tucking the fabric into the metal crimps that hold it into place.
Creating a beautiful detail, he completes the final fabric tucking
Back of the finished chair.
A big “Thank You” to the Kravet Scottsdale showroom for providing another first-class educational opportunity to the design community.