Why Can't Sofas Last Forever?
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Simplicity Sofas furniture is designed to last a lifetime.
This sustainable furniture concept was awarded a $20,000 Grand Prize in a nationwide competition for Most Innovative American Small Business in 2012.
Simplicity Sofas' concept was to create seating that started off with the best quality materials and workmanship - and then make that seating completely renewable and repairable.
This allows the furniture to continue looking and feeling brand new indefinitely.
- All parts are constructed using the highest quality, longest lasting materials available, including solid oak frames and 2.5 density Ultracel foam cushions.
- The unique modular design starts with top quality materials and expert craftsmanship - but that is just the beginning.
Simplicity Sofas goes further:
- Each individual part of the furniture is designed to be easily removed and replaced if necessary.
- Damaged and worn out parts can be quickly and inexpensively replaced by the customer in a few minutes without tools.
- Individual arms, backs, foundations, legs, cushion cores and cushion covers are replaceable.
- Each separate part or entire furniture pieces can be re-covered in alternative fabrics.
- No professional repair or assembly assistance is needed.
Thousands of different sofas, chairs, sleepers and sectionals can be created using a total of only 40 interchangeable, replaceable common component parts. (Interchangeable component parts include arms, legs, backs, bases, cushions.)
- Only 24 of these interchangeable component parts are needed to create 80% of Simplicity Sofas' product line.
- These 24 parts (5 arms, 7 backs, 7 bases, 3 cushions, 2 legs) can be combined to make hundreds of different sofa, loveseat, chair, sleeper and sectional combinations.
The first picture shown here is an example of a green Simplicity modern style Lorelei sofa with a flared arm and cylindrical metal legs.
- This sofa is assembled from 7 different interchangeable, replaceable component parts:
- Left arm
- Right arm
- Foundation base
- Back cushions
- Seat cushions
- The sofa is shipped with the component parts unassembled.
- Assembly takes 15 minutes. No tools are needed.
The simplest change can alter the appearance of this furniture. For example:
- The blue Lorelei sofa shown here substituted only tapered oak legs for the cylindrical metal leg shown above.
- The couch has changed from contemporary to transitional styling. (Not a particularly impressive change.)
But see what happens when two other component parts are substituted. The next photo shows the Simplicity Ashton sofa.
- Of the 7 original component parts used for the Lorelei sofa above, 3 parts have changed: the right and left arms and the back cushions (which are curved to fit over the wide arms.)
- The foundation base, back, seat cushions and legs are identical to the Lorelei sofas shown above.
Changing the arms and adding an optional skirt has:
- Changed the style from contemporary/transitional to thoroughly traditional.
- Increased the sofa length from 80" to 88".
Removing the skirt and adding a tapered metal leg changes the style completely.
The white sofa shown here has substituted a different size back and base but kept the same interchangeable Ashton arms.
- The result is a transformation from a very traditional to a retro modern look.
The sectional shown below is another possible combination of the interchangeable component system.
- The arms and cushions used on this sectional are exactly the same as in the green sofa pictured above.
- The sofa back and base component parts have been replaced by smaller sectional base and back components.
There are two new pieces.
- The wedge corner piece shown uses an additional 4 component parts that were not used for the sofas.
- The bumper ottoman uses an additional 2 component parts.
Individual arms, backs, bases, legs, cushion covers and cushion cores can all be replaced in less than 5 minutes. No tools needed.
Making furniture parts that are quickly and easily replaced in the home requires special design considerations.
- Replacement parts must be readily available and shipped quickly from the factory direct to the customer's home.
- Because all styles and sizes are part of a single unitized design, no parts are ever discontinued or unavailable. (Fabrics are a special case and are addressed at the bottom of this section.)
- Since the furniture may need to be put together and taken apart more than once, it was designed to be assembled, dis-assembled and re-assembled dozens of times with no loss of strength or durability.No tools are required.
- Cushions are the single part that most commonly needs replacement. Covers must be easy to remove and replace. Replacement cushion cores must slip easily into the covers.
- Extra wide heavy duty zippers go all the way across the cushion back and halfway up the sides.
- Fabric lined cushion cores and covers allow replacement inserts to slide easily and fill in corners without the need for a professional cushion stuffer.
- Individual arms, backs, bases and legs must be securely attached, but easily removable for replacement.
- Hand tightened fastening hardware allows the furniture to be quickly assembled, dis-assembled and re-assembled dozens of times with no loss of strength or durability.
- Worn or damaged fabrics can be quickly and easily replaced for individual parts or entire pieces.
- For available fabrics, individual parts can be upholstered at the factory and shipped to the customer.
- When fabrics are discontinued or not available, the entire piece can be easily and inexpensively recovered in a new fabric.
Tailored, fitted slipcovers are available for all Simplicity Sofas furniture.
- These slipcovers are designed to fit over the original upholstery.
- Worn out, stained or damaged fabrics are completely covered over so that the furniture looks brand new again.
- Homeowners can extend the life of their furniture by alternating two completely different looks (with and without slipcover) for changing seasons.
- The third photo above shows a fully upholstered sofa covered with a skirted slipcover.
- Slipcovered sofas without skirts are also available.
Simplicity Sofas furniture is designed for long term sustainable use.
Frames are constructed with select grade solid oak lumber. See photo below.
Select is the highest lumber grade. It has almost no defects. This eliminates the cracks, splits, knotholes and warping that can cause frame problems over the long term.
Select grade costs twice as much per board foot as #2 common lumber which is usually used for sofa frames.
This additional cost is wasted in most furniture. You don’t need a frame that can last 50 years if the cushions or fabric are only going to hold up for 3 - 5 years.
Standard quality cushions, fabric and foam used by most mid-priced furniture manufacturers typically lasts for 5 years or less.
Top quality materials and workmanship can double or triple that lifespan.
The lifespan of a sofa made with even the best quality materials and workmanship, however, is still limited to the failure of the most fragile part of that sofa.
Kids, pets, accidents and unseen defects can also shorten a sofa's lifespan.
Wouldn't it be nice to have furniture that doesn't need to be thrown away (or repaired at great expense)the first time one part of it breaks, wears out or becomes damaged?
Below is one more sofa look.
- This leather sofa is made using the same back, base and cushion components as the other sofas pictured in this article.
- Only the arms and legs are different.
- The solid oak frame in this leather sofa is identical to the oak frame in the previous photo.