Fabrics and Frames featuring Erica Guajardo’s Artwork

A Lesson in Anthropomorphism and Design….

Leonardo Da Vinci, a man of many skills including painter, sculptor, and architect, opened up a new concept toward design that reflected a theory of proportions and how it relates to humans.  He demonstrated this concept in a world renowned drawing called, The Vitruvian Man, which was based on the work of the architect  Vitruvius.  In this  document he demonstrated how the human body is sectioned off into simple geometric proportions such as a circle and a square, which can be used to understand other proportion theories such as The Golden Section and Gestalt Theory.  These theories led new aged designers to a world where there were no limits to design.  By using these theories and logic, designers in our modern world are able to create boundary breaking designs and make them functional.  Anthropomorphism is a genre of design that studies these traditional theories and juxtaposes them with modern Avant Garde logics.

What is anthropomorphism?

Anthropomorphism is any attribution of human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to other animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits or deities.  When you start to look at this concept and how it relates to design, we find out that many famous artists and designers around the world and throughout the generations have been learning from this concept and how it relates to design.

Contemporary examples of what anthropomorphism in architecture:

Contemporary examples of what this may look like in furniture design is shown below:

This style of furniture design represents the Avant Garde movement, because it pushes the boundaries of design to ergonomical and aesthetic characteristics, while introducing “shock value”.  Louis Sullivan, world-renowned architect whose apprentice was Frank Lloyd Wright, emphasized that “Form follows function”. When designing a piece of furniture with artistic characteristics, you must keep in mind that the piece must also be functional.  This opens up the designer’s eye to antyhropometry, which is the study of the branch of the human sciences that deals with body measurements: particularly with measurements of body size, shape, strength and working capacity.

Here at Fabrics and Frames Furniture, we are constantly thinking about how the client is going to be using our product, and how we can improve the functionality of the product for the client.  Throughout the 34 years that Fabrics and Frames has been in business we have assisted clients with their special needs by finding ergonomical solutions to make their custom piece of furniture more functional for their specific use, while keeping aesthetics in mind.  Some major factors that we consider when designing a piece of furniture are seating height, arm height, back height and lumbar support.  We also give our customers choices in cushion firmness to make the piece the most functional for them. Although stucture is a key issue for us, we also want to make sure that the piece of furniture that we design for our clients will meet their everyday needs. Each one of our clients comes in with their own specific needs and we try to meet all of them. Each piece that we create is unique in that it reflects each individual customer’s style and purpose.

Ergonomic standards will vary depending on who the client is.  We understand  that different ages, nationalities, and genetic makeup will affect the ergonomics of a piece of furniture.  In past Fabrics and Frames blogs, we have discussed how our furniture is made up of hardwoods and how they have a spring system  in the furniture piece that will give it structural support.  These key elements are important because if you don’t understand the limits that your piece can support,  you run the risk of it malfunctioning in the future.

Designers, engineers, and architects are great examples of people who understand the ergonomics of any product. In order to design a product that has anthropomorphic characteristics, you must understand on how it will be used.  Remembering that…Aesthetics are nothing without function!…leads the “designer” to create something that will not only make a statement but give a presence of heirarchy in any setting.  Regardless if you are traditional or contemporary in design choice, you must remember your basics!

For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Writen By: Erica Guajardo

Edited By: Linda Decuir

Trend of the Year: Geometric Patterns

As designers we know that the fabric industry constantly has trends that appear and disappear quicker than your eye can blink.  Over the past couple of years we have seen that geometric patterns have become a dramatic influence on how modern interior designing is emerging.  These patterns are used for multiple purposes, such as furniture, pillows, lamps, rugs, bedding, etc.  The reason why this trend is so influential is that it allows the average person to incorporate pattern in the room scheme without being too overbearing.  Most geometric designs these days are limited to two to three colors with just enough emphasis in the room to make a subtle but bold statement. Some examples are below:

Geometric Slipcover Chair

Geometric Slipcover Chair

Geometric Rug

Geometric Rug

Geometric Fabric used on Classic Knoll Sofa

Geometric Pillows with Geometric Bench Cushions

Geometric Pillows with Geometric Bench Cushions

Geometric Patterns on Bedding

Geometric Patterns on Bedding

Geometric Lamp Shades

Geometric Lamp Shades

So Where do I look to get geometric patterns like these?

These patterns are offered by a variety of companies, but here are some of my favorite patterns and where to get them below:

Fabrics around $50 per yard:

Michael Jon Designs: Grotto/ Ocean

Michael Jon Designs: Blaze/ Ocean

Kravet Smart: 31053/16

Kravet Smart: 31053/16

Fabrics around $100 per yard

Duralee: 15155/340

Duralee: 15155/340

Greenhouse Fabrics: A1582/ Citrine

Greenhouse Fabrics: A1582/ Citrine

Fabrics $100 and above

Kravet: 31797/15

Kravet: 31797/15

Geometric Patterns could eventually emerge into a classic style of contemporary pattern.  Not really basing their origin of design on a particular type of style, rather on symmetry and geometry which gives it a minimalistic approach to design.  This look is great for the average person that wants that architectural influence incorporated in their room design.  Many of these patterns come in bold statement colors, but for those that are not too color savy they also come in neutrals!

For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Writen By: Erica Guajardo

Edited By: Linda Decuir

Before and After Projects at Fabrics and Frame Furniture

The latest trend these days is going green!  Sustainablity is an issue that many around the world are trying to understand.  The Brundtland Commission defines sustainability as the “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.  Although many of us feel as we can do nothing to help the future of our environment, in reality there are many simple things that we can do to help ensure that we do our part to help future generations!  Recycling is a small effort that all of us can participate in, and recycling doesn’t have to just be sorting your aluminum cans, plastics, and re-usable paper!

Here at Fabrics and Frames we encourage our clients to re-use their quality framed furniture for the purpose of “They just don’t make furniture like they use to…”  We are in the buisness of antique repairs, and we have had 34 years of experience to reflect that we are masters of our skills!  Check out some of our past work for yourselves…

1800’s Chesterfield Sofa Restoration

Early 1900’s Ottomans Restoration

Chair Frame Reconstruction

Occastional Chairs Reupholstery

French Occasional Chair Reupholstery

Contemporary Occasional Chair

For more information or questions about designing or where you get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Written by: Erica Guajardo

Edited by: Linda Decuir

Innovative Thinking in Furniture – Then and Now

Today we are recommending the documentary Eames: The Architect and The Painter  so that you, our blog readers,  can get an inside view of what a real designer is.  Eames had a philosophy that basically said “Anyone could call themselves an artist, but a true artist will be able to design anything…”.  Art and Design go hand-in-hand in my book.  In order to understand design better, you need to understand the thinking of past great artists and designers.  Charles Eames never put boundaries on what he could and couldn’t achieve in the design world.  He became one of the greatest and  most well-known innovators of furniture design during the 19th century.

I am inspired to write about the designer, Charles Eames, because he had so many different areas of expertise! He was an architect that never graduated from Architecture School, mainly because he was “too modern” for his times. Despite this he continued to design because of his passion.  His goal was to create  inexpensive mass-produced pieces of furniture that were also well- designed.  The designs that he primarily implemented were  molded plywood shapes that were bolted to the body of the furniture frame. Some included upholstery and some were just molded plywood.

He had a design team that supported him at the Eames offices.  Creating a positive work environment that artists could indulge in was one of the most important reasons that the Eames Company was so successful.  Eames realized that one did not have to have a degree in design in order to understand how design works.  He was always willing to teach someone if they were willing to learn and had the talent to go along with it.

Here at Fabrics and Frames Furniture we have created a similar  work environment!  We are a small family run company that specializes in custom furniture, but we also dabble in other fields of design and trade and offer American signed art by Artique Decorative Trends(www.artiquecollection.com), and custom interior car accessories by TheConsoleCover.com (www.theconsolecover.com).  In many ways we can relate to the Eames Offices because of our versatility, just on a much smaller scale.

Eames was known for being focused on his furniture design one day and then  tearing his work studio apart so that he can partake in motion pictures and photography shoots the next day.  This could be a very stressful work environment for someone who wasn’t creative, but for someone who is creative this was an enthusiastic,  imaginative workplace where design flourished.

I have learned from research that when you talk about innovative designers they rarely concentrated on only one genre of design.  Many designers, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier were architects, interior designers, and artists.  All of these fields build on one another allowing the designer to have the option of pushing boundaries when necessary.  From what I understand about Eames, he was also one of these “Boundary Pushing Designers” and that is what made him so successful!

Fabrics and Frames has been in business 34 years this month and has changed its philosophy over time.  We believe that everyone deserves a home that is well-designed and their furnishings should reflect this. We currently only employ 7 people who each have their own area of expertise. Jim and Linda Decuir run the store and oversee the day to day aspects of running a business as well as coordinating the workroom with the design aspects to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. Andy Fischman and Erica Guajardo are the design team at Fabrics and Frames.  Andy is an ASID designer who helps to create the designs for our clients as well as for the store.  She has 15+ years experience with the company and takes pride in making sure that every customer leaves the store with a well-designed room that meets their lifesyle requirements.  She has a background in art and interior design which makes her a perfect mentor for Erica Guajardo.  Erica started with the design team 8 years ago, fresh out of design school were she studied both interior design and fine arts.  As important as the design team is, their designs could not be implemented without our workroom employees.  Audrey, Dwight, and Mike are the people that make the design team’s dreams come true! With each one of them having about 20+ years of custom furniture experience, they work beside Jim, Linda, Andy, and Erica on every project and work out all the problems that come with all the trials and errors of creating custom furniture.

Most people don’t understand what it takes to create a well-designed piece of furniture.  Eames showed us that “it takes a great team!”  Next time you are considering buying a new piece of furniture ask yourself, “Is it designed well?” If you don’t know, maybe it is something that you should spend more time researching.  Fabrics and Frames has had the opportunity to reupholster many of the original and replicated chairs that Eames designed.  Preserving such great design has been a pleasure for us. We understand great quality and try to implement the same standards in design as he did! We like to think that we can create anything upholstered and challenge you as the consumer to push our boundaries!

For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Writen By: Erica Guajardo

Edited By: Linda Decuir

Buying New??? Think Twice…

Buying New??? Think Twice…

“Out with the old, in with the new”  In today’s disposable society this seems to be the motto when looking for new furniture. That is not the case at Fabrics and Frames Furniture! Fabrics and Frames is celebrating its 34th year of service in the furniture industry.   With so much experience behind us, we have learned a couple of do’s and don’ts from the industry, and reasons why we suggest you carefully reconsider before throwing out your old furniture or buy new.

With the way most furniture is constructed these days, it no longer holds the label of “furniture built to last a lifetime”.  Most of us assume that our pieces of furniture are constructed with the finest materials both inside and out, especially if you have invested thousands of dollars in the piece, but this is not the case in most situations.  Fabrics and Frames Furniture is a manufacturer in the furniture industry, and because of this we specialize in furniture construction and repairs.  Over the 30+ years that we have been in buisness, we have deconstructed and reconstructed  many pieces of furniture to find particle board and cardboard holding the insides of the furniture together. There are many ways to construct a piece of furniture, but by paying attention to the small details you can distinguish a well-made piece of furniture from a low end piece of furniture. Price does not necessarily determine the quality!

When you take apart a piece of furniture that was built in the early 1900’s, you will notice many unique characteristics of the style of upholstery and construction.  A older piece will show that the person or company that originally created the piece designed it with functionality meant to last for many decades.  Generally older furniture will be constructed with hardwoods, joint details that give strength to the piece, and structure details that screams out “Form Follows Function.”.

The majority of today’s furniture is constructed to last maybe 5-10 years before it starts to breakdown. One of the first areas to go are the cushions followed by the frame.  Older peices would normally have some sort of spring system built into the structure of the piece.  Today many furniture frames are constructed with a webbing systems inside of them.  (Note: there are some companies out there still offering spring systems to support their furniture, but the average furniture won’t have it incorporated into the design.)  Having a webbing system incorporated into your design instead of a spring system will ultimately end up with you eventually falling through your sofa.  Webbing is a rubber product that has elasticity…over time (5-10years) the webbing will start to stretch and wear out.  As time goes on, you may eventually start to sink into your sofa.  When this begins to happen, many people think that it is just the foam in the cushions breaking down, and that is why they are starting to have trouble getting out of thier furniture, but in reality it is often their webbing system is stretching and breaking down.

Most furniture sold these days comes from China, regardless of whose brand name is attached to it.  When shopping for a new piece that you expect to last for years, ask these questions:

1. Is it made in the U.S.A.?

Furniture that is constructed in the U.S. mainly comes from North Carolina.  Many name-brand companies are buying overseas and getting pre-upholstered furniture shipped into the U.S.  This is problem for many reasons because (A) it takes away American jobs and (B) you lose the quality aspect that comes from experienced upholsterers. You can end up with mis-shaped furniture, and poorly matched pattern repeats. I have seen fabrics put on upside down because people are not taking the time to pay attention to simple detail. (C) Non-Consistant Furniture Product.  What you see at the store is not what you always get in your home.  Dye-lot colors and patterns on the fabric being off in tone and texture are common problems.  After waiting for 12 weeks or more for a custom-ordered piece and not getting what you ordered at the store is not a fun experience. Often you get stuck with something you don’t really like because once you sign on delivery you are unable to return it.  With these many problems with mass produced furniture today it should  make you question: “Is it worth buying cheaper?”

Striped Pattern Matched Sofa

Stripes are not pattern matched.

2. What type of wood is the furniture frame constructed out of?

The only acceptable type of wood for furniture frames is hardwoods. Softer woods and particle board is a big no-no because they don’t have the strength necessary to support the frame.

3.What type of seating system does it have?

Webbed or Spring? Spring systems are superior in all areas no matter what a salesperson tries to tell you.

4.Am I looking for a piece to keep for a long time, or do I want a disposable piece of furniture?

Many of today’s younger generation like the option of cheaper furniture because it allows them to change every couple of years.  The disadvantage to this way of thinking is that economically you are spending more money overtime.  Instead of buying a better quality sofa  which will allow you to abuse your furniture and it structurally be able to withstand the impact over the next 20years, the younger consumer will buy inexpensive sofas every 3-5 years that will break down and may even structurally fall apart.  When purchasing an inexpensive piece of furniture, you are risking buying a piece that is constructed out of particle board and cardboard.  What is wrong with this style of construction is that particle board is compressed thin layers of wood, allowing it to be weaker that hardwoods, and eventually snapping and breaking in half.  Some common places where breakage occurs is in the middle of the frame, the arm falling off, and legs breaking off.  If you are looking for a piece of furniture to fill a spot in your home and it will never be used, then go with a cheap piece of furniture.  But if you are looking for a piece of furniture to really use such as in your living room or den spend a little more and buy quality.  Another benefit of buying quality is that you will not have to bother with the headache of the upkeep on an inexpensive piece that will need extra TLC.

Broken Arm Sofa

Broken Base SofaBroken Arm Sofa

When thinking about new furniture, think about the functionality of the piece, and how are you going use this particular furniture piece and how often?  Times are hard economically for most of us right now…shouldn’t we analyze our expenses so that we get the most out of our purchase? If you are now discouraged from buying new…Then think Reupholstery!  Reupholstering is not always the most inexpensive way to go, but if you have a unique quality frame, or one of sentimental value, then it may be structurally better than the pieces coming out of China and most certainly will cost a little less than buying a comparable new piece.

For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

Writen By: Erica Guajardo

Edited By: Linda Decuir

Quality Made Sofas

How do you determine whether  furniture is of good quality?

When shopping for new furniture most people check out the current ads to see where they should look. Almost every furniture ad says that the furniture it is advertising is a quality product. This is standard advertising but often misleading to the general public. The ads want you to believe that the stores are indeed selling quality products when in fact they may not be. They advertise different prices but still advertise quality for all. Maybe good advertising sells products but good quality keeps customers.

So how does one determine if a sofa is truly built with quality in mind?

The old adages that “you get what you pay for” and “if its too good to be true it generally is” is a good start. But let’s look deeper into what goes into making a quality sofa or chair.

The Frame:

all hardwood frame, glued and double dowelled at stress joints

Let us first start with the main structure of the piece – the frame. Frames should be made of properly dried hardwoods. They should be engineered with strong joints that will withstand years of use. Using wood dowels and lots of wood glue to hold the joints together is very important. The size of the rails, the large piece of wood on the front of the sofa, and supporting side pieces, together with proper spacing is critical for long term performance. Perhaps most important is the time and care taken assembling and gluing the frame pieces together. The frame builder must make sure the wood joints are flush and glue is oozing out of the wood to make sure the frame will withstand the abuse of consumers for years to come.

I have seen plywood , OSB(wood chips glued together) and pine used in inexpensive furniture. I have also seen plywood used in very expensive furniture. Plywood is not necessarily bad in certain situations, such as on curves, but care must be taken to properly engineer all stress joints. Plywood is composed of layers of wood that can be used in radius (curved) pieces without concern of the wood splitting with the grain. CNC machine (computer generated cutting) of plywood is very precise and with careful assembly can perform properly. Call me old fashioned but I want my frames to be made with hardwoods , want them glued, double doweled at stress joints and most importantly I want the wood assembled with care taken so that all wood joints are flush . The process is time consuming and not easy to accomplish in large production line environments. When shopping for a sofa you can often determine how well the frame is made by trying to wiggle the arms to see if they move. If they do the joints are probably not put together properly.

Dried Hardwoods:

Dowels used at stress points:

Spring System:

Now let’s talk about the spring system. The most important part about the spring system is that, whatever type is used, it must be properly spaced and the frames properly engineered to work together with the springs for years of service. No-sag springs (snake looking wire from front to back) and webbing are the least expensive and their productive life is usually limited to the life of the fabric. Coil springs are considered the most expensive and with maintenance will last for many years. You can find eight-way hand tied springs or machine-tied springs. Both will last you for years to come.

Eight-way Hand Tie:

No- Sag Springs (snake looking spring system):

Cushions:

Cushion stuffing can be foam, dacron , feathers and down, springs or a combination of any of these. There are many different qualities and firmnesses of foam that are typically used for standard sized cushions. Soft overstuffed cushions can be a mixture of springs (small coils wrapped in muslin) or foam in the middle with a combination of feathers , down or dacron on the outside (the envelope). This is then covered with a cushion covering. Whatever type of cushion stuffing you choose should be combined with a spring system that gives proper support. A general rule is that soft overstuffed cushions work best with a good firm spring system such as coil springs which will give a good ride while sinking into that wonderful sofa. For a firmer feel denser foam cushions on a good spring system will give better support. Often when shopping one finds really hard sofas that feel like you are sitting on a board. This usually indicates a no sag spring system or webbing with a combination of cheap foam cushions.

Dacron:

Muslin:

Feathers:

Foam:

Cutting the Fabric and Tailoring:

nailheads on an upholstered arm

The tailoring of a sofa is what determines how visually beautiful it is. It is the most time consuming part of building a quality sofa. Each fabric stretches differently. When cushion covers are cut allowance must be taken into account for anticipated stretch. Most factories cut all the fabrics alike not taking into account this stretch. Factories test fabrics before putting them in their furniture lines. Many large factories marry certain fabrics to certain frames because of the difficulty in matching/tailoring.

At Fabrics and Frames we make each piece individually and study all fabrics thoroughly making allowance for stretch, pattern matching etc. before cutting it. It can take us 8 hours or more to properly cut the fabric for a sofa. A mass produced factory generally gang cuts their fabrics (many fabrics are cut at the same time, one on top of the other) thus all are cut alike without regard to stretching or patterns. This is definitely more efficient but does not produce a beautiful sofa. For us cutting fabrics is akin to an artist doing a painting. Many decisions are made as to where the pattern is centered or continued. We always try to match the pattern in a fabric all over the piece. The pattern will match from the back to the seat. The seat will match from the seat to the apron, the apron will match to the skirt, etc. We not only match the pattern vertically but also horizontally when we can.

Pattern Match Chairs:(follows lines in the base from the seat cushion)

Discriminating shoppers can always tell when a sofa has been upholstered with care. The fabric has been pulled tight during the upholstery process so that there are no wrinkles or loose fabric on the arms, apron, in back or outside back. When shopping for a sofa feel the arms to make sure you don’t feel the wood. We use three layers between the wood and the final fabric – cotton, dacron, and a base fabric. Also feel the back. It should be pulled tight and not feel floppy when pushed in. Saggy backs are just not attractive. The back and seat cushions should fit the frame nicely. There should not be lots of space between the cushions nor should they be too tightly squished together. At Fabrics and Frames we know that great upholsterers produce beautiful furniture that you can be happy to have in your home.

If you are the type that likes things done right ask lot of questions when shopping for furniture. To make sure you are buying from a reputable store you can also check the Better Business Bureau for complaints and resolutions the store has dealt with. Fabrics and Frames is and has been a member of the BBB for over 30 years and we have not even had a single complaint to address. This is because our craftsmen care and our owners care that we do it right. We are human and nothing is perfect but our goal is to do the best job we can – and it shows in both the new furniture we build and the furniture we reupholster. That’s why 70% of our business is from previous customers and referrals. Our goal is to make our customers “customers for life” by giving them the best product they can buy for a price they can afford!

Jim The Sofa Man

For more information about designing or where to get custom looks like these please visit our website:

www.fabricsandframes.com

We are currently located at 5322 Alpha Rd, Dallas, Texas 75240. 972-385-4097.  Please contact us if you have any questions about this blog at andy@fabricsandframes.com, and or follow us on Facebook!http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabrics-and-Frames-Furniture/156825517684205

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