The Materials do Matter
Steel and Chrome
The modernist designers chose 1 inch thick cold drawn steel tube because it was a widely available and cheap material. The only downside is the quite costly chrome plating process. Any proper electroplating needs three steps: a matte nickel plating, brillant nickel plating and in the end the chroming with a thickness of 30 micron. Read more about this...
This is why you will see "stainless steel" in the descriptions of cheap reproductions. There are a few things you might consider:
- Steel is paid by weight and stainless steel is expensive. This is why thinner gauge tubes are being used. The furniture is not only much lighter, but equally it may bend or break over time.
- Stainless steel comes in different grades, where high grades are very expensive and lower grades will stain and corrode.
- Due to the thin gauge the steel tubes look uneven and often distorted after bending.
So far nothing beats our good old chrome plated steel when it comes to durability and finish. To achieve equal results using proper stainless steel and adequate processing would cost three times more.
Battling for competitive prices has led to an enormous creativity in inventing different leather qualities and to much confusion on the customer side.
In the end it all comes down to the same: Only a realtively small part of a bovine hide can be used for processing natural furniture leather. The graphic shows the different parts of a cowskin, where only the bit which is marked as "croupon" is good enough. The neck/shoulder bit has strong horizontal wrinkles and the belly parts are too narrow.
Moreover, only the croupon of european bovine hides is tall enough to allow cutting large parts like the mattress of the LC4 Chaiselongue from it. Apart from being much smaller, south american hides show too many scars from insect bites and fences to be suitable for high quality leathers.
During the tanning process, the hides are horizontally split which leaves two halves, the top one with the natural grain TOP GRAIN and the lower one called SPLIT LEATHER.
High grade leathers are made from the TOP GRAIN side and will show the naturally grown texture of the skin, including the variations in grain and small imperfections. They have a soft touch and an opaque shine. These qualities are widely called: ANILINE LEATHERS. They can only be processed from more or less flawless hides and are therefore quite expensive.
Less perfect hides are ground down and receive a corrective chemical surface treatment. They are still natural grain leathers, however their touch is not quite as smooth and they appear a bit shinier. This is what we call SEMI ANILINE. It might be a good compromise between price and quality.
Less expensive qualities can be processed from the SPLIT SIDE. Their surface is completely artificial and their touch is hard. On the other hand they are very robust, not susceptible to staining and will stand extensive use and direct sunlight. You may know this type of leather from car upholsteries.
All our leathers are produced in Italy complying with European standards and regulations, but they have nothing in common with what chinese competitors are selling as ITALIAN LEATHER. This is very thin split leather with a strong pungent smell. Stay away you from it!
As an alternative to leather we do now offer two different types of high quality fabric.
DIVINA 3 from the renown danish manufacturer KVADRAT A.S.
Divina is a full-cloth product, which means that it is manufactured by weaving the yarn in a coarse linen hose casing, after which, it is subjected to mechanical processing using very high temperatures, at the same time as it is being coloured. This creates a situation where the surface becomes smooth, directionless and uniform in a manner very similar to the properties of felt. The material shrinks by 25-30% during this procedure, and the process can be illustrated by imagining a wool sweater which has been washed at too high a temperature. The result of this kind of processing is called cloth weaving and it is used for finer textures such as uniforms and plaids.
We find it very suitable for the Jacobsen Swan and Egg Chair as well as for the Corbusier LC series.
COTTON is a heavy weight (380 grams/ square meter) mixture of 63% cotton and 37% linen with a pronounced structure. It has a high abrasion resistence of 30.000 Martindale and no tendency for pilling i.e. to form bobbles during use.