What makes luxury furniture different?
Interiors expert Myles Leask looks at what makes luxury furniture different.
In previous centuries, furniture was made primarily to serve a functional purpose. When designed for a palace or home of the aristocratic ruling class, items of furniture would of course have to meet the required standard of aesthetic and fit with the extravagant nature of their setting, yet the purpose of furniture was still first and foremost to meet the practical needs of the homeowners and their guests.
To a certain extent, this is still true, in that those shopping for items of furniture such as a sofa or bed are principally concerned with selecting something comfortable. However, the appearance of furniture has become much more prominent in modern decision-making and, as with many other aspects of modern life, many of us have adopted an unhealthy consumerist mindset when it comes to purchasing furniture. Since we are so concerned with keeping up appearances and being up to date with the latest home interior fashion trends, it has become increasingly common to opt for cheaper furniture which looks great, and which we won’t be too sad to dispose of once the fashion has changed in a few years’ time.
The difference with luxury furniture is that its appearance is not simply current but timeless. Ageless items such as Chesterfield sofas will fit perfectly into any setting, however traditional or modern, so you can guarantee that however often you re-decorate your home, luxury furnishings will still fit seamlessly into their surroundings.
Materials & Techniques
At the risk of sounding clichéd, it is true that you get what you pay for. As such, whilst many consumers are tempted to pay less for an item that they will likely wish to replace before too long, doing so will not leave them with much choice, since low-priced furniture will not have a significant lifespan. This is because budget furniture is often made using low quality materials, and minimal labour is assigned to their construction, meaning that the framework will not endure any notable amount of wear and tear.
On the contrary, high-end furniture is made by skilled tradesmen who designate as much time as necessary into creating each individual item to the highest possible standard. An example of this is Fleming & Howland’s Chesterfield chairs which are made using solid hardwood and hand-dyed leather. This requires well-trained techniques, since carving solid hardwood is much more difficult than working with the engineered woods commonly used in the creation of cheaper furniture. Hand-colouring leather also radiates a distinctive look which machine-dyed leather can never quite replicate, since this again requires great skill and is more of a form of art than simply a manufacturing process.
The accumulation of all these elements is a product that will look stylish regardless of temporary fashion trends and last a lifetime or longer. Truly luxurious furniture should outlive its owners and has traditionally been passed down through the generations. Unlike disposable furniture, these items actually gain value as the years pass, since their quality is not compromised and often their look improves as the leather becomes worn.
Attention to Detail
Of course, high-end furniture manufacturers aim to create a finished product of unparalleled quality, and in order to do so take great care in ensuring every detail is up to standard. This comes down to details such as ensuring seams are securely and discreetly sewn, and any additional elements such as buttons are correctly positioned and properly fastened. Whilst these details may seem insignificant, luxury furniture manufacturers will not overlook any aspect, however small, and if you intend to keep an item of furniture for many years, you will understandably want every small feature to be perfect.
Clearly, luxury furniture is indeed different from standard items of furniture, in every aspect from its appearance to its lifetime and everything in between. Investing in furnishings of such superior quality will pay off in the long run. As with most good things, luxury furniture gets better with age.