When you buy a couch, you don't usually rip it open to see how it was made. You trust that the couch you bought won't immediately fall apart, and hope that it was worth its price. It would be nice, however, to have some assurance that there are some brands out there that don't just slap a frame together with glue and call it a day. We wanted to let people into the process of how a couch was made, and what the Furniture Mall strives for in terms of quality. I went down to the factory of one of our brands that we feature in our store, Couch Potatoes, and got to take a look into how some of their furniture is made.
Step 1: The Cutting of the Fabric and Leather
The fabric used on Couch Potatoes' furniture is imported, depending on the company, with some coming overseas from China and India.
All the fabrics undergo a process called the "double rub test" which essentially simulates how many times a person gets up and off a sofa. By testing the durability and longevity of a fabric, CP lets you sleep knowing your sofas fabric isn't splitting in half overnight. They also have performance fabrics great for the dynamic duo of kids and pets. They are stain and water-resistant (important to note this does not mean stain and waterproof).
The fabrics are cut with a precise machine that was satisfying to watch. The leather on the other hand was hand-cut by the factory's employees. The leather is supplied from Moore and Giles and imported from Italy after being tanned. Aniline products are generally high in quality and aren't subject to the peeling that is often found in bonded leather products that are often marketed as real leather (many furniture brands do this). Bonded Leather is made from strips or pieces of leather blended with polyurethane and rubber though they substitute the rubber sometimes. Aniline leather is often the whole hide.
Step 2: The Sewing Room
Once the fabric is cut, the pieces are taken to the sewing room. This is where employees sit at stations, and depending on their specific piece, can sew anything from an ottoman cover to the cushions on a couch. Every worker was incredibly precise and focused on their task, and the couch was coming together stitch by stitch.
Step 3: The Frames are Cut and Connected
The materials use to make the frame of the couches vary on the type that is being made. There is also the issue of the supply chain shortage, which in this case, makes it difficult to get certain types of wood. However, these are the types of materials that Couch Potatoes' uses in its frames:
Hardwood: as the name implies is wood all the way through with nothing added to it. A solid piece of material that is often used on higher-end furniture. The cost of goods is often greater than either plywood or engineered wood such as particle board.
Plywood: is thin layers of wood veneers glued together in a rotating grain to promote strength and flexibility. Some of the benefits of plywood, that hardwood doesn't possess, is that it doesn't suffer from shrinkage of the wood due to moisture of temperature changes.
Particle board: is an engineered wood that is sawdust and small wood chips added with glue or resin and then pressed together. You've probably seen this type of wood in some of the furniture in your home. Due to its easy availability and low costs particle board comes in handy, but loses out with its low strength and durability. The techniques Couch Potatoes implements, such as jigsaw fitting, or dove tail fitting the frame together, promotes durability even with particle board.
The wood of the frames are cut by a CNC machine. This machine uses air pressure to suck the board to the table, so it won't move while the cutting is taking place. The wood is then cut out using the design templates for the furniture we make into parts, which are then assembled into the frame. The CNC machine is so precise with the cuts that a human hair is less than the margin of error. This allows them to use jointed wood techniques instead of nails in many places making the frames more structurally stable. They also aren't using glue to keep the frames together.
Step 4: The Assembly
The frames, once cut out by the CNC machine, are then assembled on a long assembly line. Each employee had a specific task and area they were meant to focus on for the particular piece of furniture. For example, one employee named Chauncey focused on the outside back of a couch, and he would work on that one specific part until the end of his shift.
Couch Potatoes' is a brand that takes pride in its furniture. Furniture is not simply a product to them, that they have to shoot out at the lowest possible cost. Cutting corners was not found in their process. Instead, I found innovation on how to find ways and techniques to ensure durability and quality with the supplies they had available. From the careful selection of materials for frames, to how employees are specifically trained on one task, their couches are not only a comfortable place to sit but will last long into the future.
I was really impressed with their process and how they take such care in ensuring quality in each step. It's something you don't see very often, and it's a unique trait to their brand. You can check out Couch Potatoes in their new gallery, now at the Furniture Mall of Texas. With this information you now have about the construction of their couches, we hope you can appreciate a well-made couch, at an affordable price, made by people who genuinely care about their craft.
Written by Emily Holleran