The role of upholstery in workplace settings can greatly influence the function of a product. Whether you choose a natural fabric to provide warmth and comfort or use a leather for high traffic areas that require frequent cleaning, the choice of the upholstery option is an important part of specifying workplace furniture.

Below we explore the process of upholstery and why it has a lasting influence on workplace design.

Upholstering an EC1 module at the factory in Denmark

What is Upholstery?

Simply put, upholstery is the work of attaching a furniture frame with padding, cushioning, and fabric or leather textile covers. The material makes a significant difference to the visual identity of the chair, and while the interior elements may not be visible, they make a big difference to the comfort and ergonomics of the piece.

Why is Upholstery important?

Fabric creates a first and lasting impression on people, so it’s essential that it looks perfect. When selecting materials to complement our pieces, we divide them into fabric groups, considering how easy it to upholster, the nature of the pile, the Martindale rating and the fire retardancy. All these elements affect how the fabric will look over time – especially when you throw contours and curves into the mix or broad swathes of material.

What is the Martindale Method?

The Martindale method simulates the natural wear of a textile, in which a material sample is brushed against an abrasive surface with a specified force. The higher the value, the more resistant the material is to abrasion. For workplace furniture, there is usually a 30,000 Martindale minimum.

Double topstiching on the EC1 sofa, included in Project Orsted. Upholstered with Hallingdal 65 from Kvadrat

Types of Stitching

When attaching fabric to complicated shapes and structures, different stitching techniques are employed. We often use plain seams in our pieces alongside piping (chord sewn into the fabric). This helps create the clean profile which is an essential facet of Danish furniture.

You’ll notice that on the EC1 sofa we use a double topstitch. This gives the upholstery extra strength and control (increasing a product’s longevity) it also accentuates the compact shape of the sofa. The double topstitch allows us to maintain the square shape of the modules while allowing for the gentle curves that the foam creates.

We use French seams on the walls of the Private High Back Sofa to lessen the chances of unravelling or fraying. This also serves as a decorative feature – creating an elegant and clean finish.

Private High Back Sofa with the French Stitch, upholstered in Hallingdal 65 from Kvadrat

Form & Foam

The Form sofa is a testament to the importance of high-quality foam. It’s crisp and linear design is timeless and extremely versatile. That’s why we have selected such a high-density foam; we needed to make sure that the Form would maintain its shape over time, without sacrificing the comfort.

The firm foam of the Form sofa, upholstered with leather from Sorensen
Preparing the foam for attaching the fabric

Often we tend to focus on the aesthetic, but ergonomics are just as crucial in commercial interiors. In a modern workplace, furniture needs to be functional for the user, and upholstery is a vital part of that.

For lounge and breakout areas, choosing a soft woollen textile on a sofa encourages comfort and provides warmth to the user, whereas a durable treated leather could be used in high traffic reception areas that require frequent cleaning.

Overall it is recommended to consider how the fabric, cushioning, or leather ages over time to determine what you choose and for where in the workplace.