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What elements go into making your perfect sofa?

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What makes one sofa “better” than another?  Isn’t it all about how many seats it has, whether it’s in leather or fabric, whether it reclines or if it has additional headrests?  Those are certainly elements but they are mostly cosmetic and lend very little to overall comfort and durability. The true value in selecting the best sofa is looking at what happens on the inside.

I met with Sergio Della Giovanna from Swan Italy, artisans in the manufacture of upholstered furniture since 1963. I was curious to find out exactly what does make the difference. He started out by telling me about a sofa window display he had once seen, where the store owners placed a chopped up sofa in their window. Sergio told me “that’s how you tell what the quality is like.

What goes on underneath the covers is the most important to a quality sofa like Swan.  They only use solid pine or beech wood in their frames and that selection is based on the size and design of the model.  Any sofa over 2.5 m is also fitted with metal joints to strengthen it further.  Then there’s the padding.  This can be in a number of foam densities, foam mixed with feathers, or purely feathers.  The best feathers to use are curly feathers as these allow cushions to better bounce back to their original form. The combination of padding materials and density can be adjusted and customised to suit different needs such as back and neck issues.

Just like fashion, furniture design also changes with the times. New looks, shapes and colours can easily represent a specific time period or design movement. I asked Sergio where Swan gets its cues from in terms of latest design trends.  “Colour trends are very often inspired by the fashion catwalks.  This means that these change quite regularly. Shapes are generally dependent on the designers’ inspiration. When we present new designs at fairs like the Milan Salone del Mobile we always present a totally new design based on the designer’s imagination, and another that is based on customer feedback.”

Based on this feedback I was intrigued to find out what are the top trends right now in terms of shapes, fabric and colours.  According to Sergio the tendency is moving towards smaller sofas. However these are still generous shapes with deep seats and wide armrests.  ”Geographically we see different preferences in styles: Eastern European countries and the Middle East tend to veer towards more opulent looks while Northern Europe is drawn more towards clean lines. The colour trends we are seeing right now are greys, light pinks, smooth greens, and of course the more natural palettes that are always popular”.


Of course colours, shapes and sizes can all be changed according to taste. But how much more customisation is possible when purchasing a Swan sofa?  I was assured that a lot more is possible: Padding options, fabric types and feet can all be changed according to customer preference.  They will even upholster your new sofa in your own fabric if they don’t have quite what you’re looking for. “We don’t use industrial production methods. Everything at Swan is hand-made so it’s easy for us to customise.”

In fact this is something to keep in mind if you really want a one of a kind sofa.  A hand-made custom design will generally take slightly longer to manufacture than a standard model. 6 to 8 weeks as oppose to 4 to 5 weeks.  Sergio tells me that as Swan is still a “small family company, our flexibility in production is one of our strong points. We are true artisans and are willing to openly discuss fabrication options based on the customer’s needs.”

To discuss your preferences and create your perfect sofa, visit the design team at The House Shop Interiors, who will help you bring your vision to life. 


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