Designing Better Futon Furniture
Innovations in furniture are developed from the people who use and work with those products every day. The futon furniture industry is no different. Several leading manufacturers have brought new and innovative ideas into this industry and in this article we’ll take a look at their stories, ideas, designs and innovations for improving this category of furniture.
The August Lotz Story:
August Lotz started out in 1897. Located in Wisconsin they got their start making wooden bee keeping equipment. Soon after that they would expand out into making wooden furniture components for several different furniture manufacturers creating a niche for themselves in that industry. In the early 1990’s the company was purchased by Mark Barton and Mark Schlichter. They wanted to create fine solid hardwood furniture, futon furniture to be exact in a time when the futon industry was still quite young. Mark Barton was lead engineer and developed the existing designs used throughout the August Lotz futon frame line today.
His August Lotz futon frame design is unique when compared to other products throughout the market place. The seat and back section slats are designed with an interlocking English dovetail system that joints slat grid sections into the back rack and seat rack sections. While many manufacturers were using simple staples or nails for their slat support systems, Lotz was ahead of its time by incorporating high-end old world construction techniques into each August Lotz futon frame.
August Lotz frames are made from oak and many styles are available in a medium finish or an English oak finish. August Lotz was purchased several years ago by a Wisconsin manufacturer by the name of SourceCut Industries. That same commitment to design and quality of materials has remained the same. Their convertible sofas earned a Consumer’s Digest Best Buy Award for premium futon frames. An award given to fewer than 5% of manufacturers in a given industry. While it’s parent company SourceCut Industries offers domestic manufacturing, August Lotz products are imported with the same specifications and designs that have earned them the title of “best value in the market”.
The LifeStyle Solutions Story:
Founded in 1989 under the name Elite, LifeStyle Solutions entered the market with some very unique designs in futon furniture. They were among the first brands to incorporate Asian inspired materials and designs into several futon frame lines and have made an impact with their front operated and easy to open futons.
LifeStyle Solutions imports their futon line of products from Indonesia which are made to their specifications. It has always been important to LifeStyle Solutions that their products be made from sustainable forests and their pieces are crafted from ITTO certified (International Tropical Timber Organization) plantation grown hardwoods. LifeStyle Solutions has also earned the Sustainable Forest Management Certificate that shows their production materials are legally harvested from well-managed forests as defined by a comprehensive list of regulations.
CEO Sean Pathiratne leads this fast growing furniture company and has built a reputation for creating exceptional quality and value in every LifeStyle Solutions futon frame. Much of the LifeStyle Solutions futon furniture is transitional in design which will allow it to blend in well with both modern and traditional home décor.
The Night & Day Furniture Story:
Beginning in the late 1990’s, Night & Day Furniture was founded by Mike Gallawa. His simple goal was to create futon frames that could be converted easily from sofa to bed, making sure bolts can be lined up and ensuring that there is less hardware for the end user to have to deal with. Night & Day Furniture solved these issues with several patented features found throughout the Night & Day Furniture line.
Night & Day Furniture products are made from eco-friendly plantation grown rubberwood. Rubberwood is a member of the maple family of woods and offers a dense grain which helps in the kiln drying process. Rubberwood trees are latex producing and at the end of their cycle are cut down and replaced with new seedlings. Made in Malaysia. Night & Day futon frames are made to the highest standards of quality and construction.
Night & Day Furniture futons incorporate several different design features that are said to make assembly easier for the end user. The patented shoe fittings TM operating system incorporates several types of unique hardware applications. The Snapper TM provides snap on assembly and easy front conversion of your seat and back sections. ThumbNut TM is a barrel shaped nut that eliminates movement of the nut during assembly without the need for extra tools. Shoe Fittings TM systems are available Bronze or Gold depending on the features available.
In this article we’ve taken a look at several leading futon furniture manufacturers. August Lotz which was founded in the late 1800’s went from making wooden bee hive equipment to creating wooden frame decks using sliding English dovetail joinery. Mark Barton was lead engineer for Lotz and created most of the concepts and designs used throughout the line today. LifeStyle Solutions was founded originally under the name of Elite and is an import manufacturer who brought transitional designs into the futon industry. LifeStyle Solutions was among the first brands to incorporate Asian inspired designs and finishes throughout their line. Finally Night & Day Furniture founded by Mike Gallawa. Night & Day wanted to take a unique approach to futon design by simplifying the way futons go together. Developing patented hardware and assembly methods allowed them to make a futon frame easier to assemble.
I have always found it interesting how different manufacturers approach the design of furniture. Often many of the design aspects are similar or the same but sometimes manufacturers take a unique approach to design or come up with a radically new concept that makes that piece of furniture so much better than other products in the marketplace. This is the case with these manufacturers who have found ways to take an existing product line and make it even better.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
P.Pendleton is a furniture professional with over 15 years experience in the futon industry. He continues to work with other furniture professionals in promoting new trends in furniture.