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Edition 12

What you must know about upholstery fabric

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By Humphrey ODHIAMBO

The fabric of an upholstered piece is the most visible sign of quality and style. Upholstery fabric also is the part most likely to show wear and soil. When choosing upholstery, you should be aware of its durability, cleanability, and resistance to soil and fading.

How will your upholstered pieces be used in your home? Sofas, chairs, and Ottomans receiving only moderate amounts of wear will do fine with a less durable fabric.

However, pieces subjected to daily heavy wear need to be covered in tough, durable, tightly woven fabrics.

When purchasing an upholstered piece or upholstery fabric, be aware that the higher the thread count, the more tightly woven the fabric is, and the better it will wear. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

Natural Fabrics

Linen: Linen is best suited for formal living rooms or adult areas because it soils and wrinkles easily. And, it won’t withstand heavy wear. However, linen does resist pilling and fading. Soiled linen upholstery must be professionally cleaned to avoid shrinkage.

Leather

This tough material can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped as needed, and cleaned with leather conditioner or saddle soap.

Cotton

This natural fiber provides good resistance to wear, fading, and pilling. It is less resistant to soil, wrinkling, and fire. Surface treatments and blending with other fibers often atone for these weaknesses. Durability and use depend on the weave and finish. Damask weaves are formal; canvas (duck and sailcloth) is more casual and more durable.

Wool

Sturdy and durable, wool and wool blends offer good resistance to pilling, fading, wrinkling, and soil. Generally, wool is blended with a synthetic fiber to make it easier to clean and to reduce the possibility of felting the fibers (causing them to bond together until they resemble felt). Blends can be spot-cleaned when necessary.

Cotton Blend

Depending on the weave, cotton blends can be sturdy, family-friendly fabrics. A stain-resistant finish should be applied for everyday use.

Vinyl

Easy-care and less expensive than leather, vinyls are ideal for busy family living and dining rooms. Durability depends on quality.

Silk

This delicate fabric is only suitable for adult areas, such as formal living rooms. It must be professionally cleaned if soiled.

Synthetic Fabrics

Acetate: Developed as imitation silk, acetate can withstand mildew, pilling, and shrinking. However, it offers only fair resistance to soil and tends to wear, wrinkle, and fade in the sun. It’s not a good choice for furniture that will get tough everyday use.

Acrylic

This synthetic fiber was developed as imitation wool. It resists wear, wrinkling, soiling, and fading. Low-quality acrylic may pill excessively in areas that receive high degrees of abrasion. High-quality acrylics are manufactured to pill significantly less.

Nylon

Rarely used alone, nylon is usually blended with other fibers to make it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. Nylon is very resilient; in a blend, it helps eliminate the crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. It doesn’t readily soil or wrinkle, but it does tend to fade and pill.

Olefin

This is a good choice for furniture that will receive heavy wear. It has no pronounced weaknesses.

Polyester

Rarely used alone in upholstery, polyester is blended with other fibers to add wrinkle resistance, eliminate crushing of napped fabrics, and reduce fading. When blended with wool, polyester aggravates pilling problems.

Rayon

Developed as an imitation silk, linen, and cotton, rayon is durable. However, it wrinkles. Recent developments have made high-quality rayon very practical.

Edition 12

PRICE OR VALUE

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When it comes to the ambience you desire, where do you really draw the line? ROBERT YAWE interrogates.

While sitting at a bus terminus recently, I suddenly realised that fares were different yet the vehicles were travelling to exactly the same destination and this got me thinking.

The process was initially uncomfortable. However, after a while, I was at home with it just like one would get used to bike pedals after trying it out after a long break in cycling. It was clear that even though the destination was the same the passengers were very different in terms of expectation.

It became obvious that younger generation preferred those with darkly tinted windows and playing very loud music, those of my age (past use by date generation) were more interested in those which looked clean and the staff not too threatening, another group that transcends my age were only interested in the amount of the fare being charged.

Socio-economic divides

A similar situation can be noted across the various socioeconomic divides ranging from products to services.  Which is a clear indication that the appreciation and expectation of value exists across the various divides and so too is the emphasis on price.

From my basic anthropological research at a bus terminus, it is clear that Maslow’s Law (hierarchy of needs) misses out on the high possibility that one can comfortably exist at multiple levels and that, unlike a ladder, one does not need to pass by each rank.

Due to this many of us exist across multiple domains. We use top of the range mobile devices but take our cars to road side garages. Yes some of us own Prado(s) but have untrained and underage house helps sourced from our rural homes, have smart television sets but place them on waste paper based cabinets. Amazingly, some of us also use synthetic oils to improve our vehicle’s engine performance but still have that energy owning a guzzling and ozone unfriendly freezer in the house.

All of the issues raised above relate to the words price and value. Many of us unfortunately have a problem appreciating and differentiating between them and use the terms interchangeably.

One of the descriptions of intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions which explains why a nation becomes more intelligent with talents such as artists (painters, sculptures, composers and craftsmen) who become better appreciated and rewarded.

Level of consciousness

Surely, a brand painting cannot be valued based on the cost of the canvas and paints but in its level of detail and attention put into its production. Even if it was given away with no monetary exchange (price) it will still retain its value but unfortunately only among those who have reached a certain level of consciousness.

The last point is clearly seen when you visit a rural area and find the trees totally destroyed and the impoverished population busy burning and selling charcoal or in an urban neighbourhood where people drive the latest cars but yet have garbage dumps within smelling distance of their houses.

To both groups; what emerges as important is the price of the sack of charcoal and that of the cars they drive and the houses they live in. hardly do they take time to think about the larger environment in which they exist. As you read this I am sure you are wondering where I am going with this line of thought. You must surely be as well flabbergasted by what I have written so far.

Intrinsic value

Well, all the previous articles I have written in Ideal Interiors magazine since its inception culminate with this one as the main reason why I think we as a nation are becoming more mediocre is because we are obsessed with the price of items as opposed to the intrinsic value to be relished from being in its presence.

When the office of the Deputy President reported that they would spend Kes. 100M (US $ 1.14 M) to refurbish the official residence many of us were up in arms screaming and yelling about the price tag.  At no time did a single reporter or commentator across the various media platforms ask about what was to be done.

Many of us were irked by the fact that the entire development had cost Kshs. 383M (US$ 4.35M) therefore there was no logical explanation, to them, as to why the finishes and furnishings such as natural wood flooring, tapestry, painting and tiling would cost such a high price.

It was clear from the arguments put forward that all were based on price not the value to be derived from the improvements.  If the Deputy President is uncomfortable in his surrounding when he rises to face the day’s work, then be sure that his effectiveness will be compromised.

Authentic experience

His wife’s desire to entertain foreign dignitaries in the home would be reduced forcing her to use hotels and other establishments which deny us as a nation the opportunity to provide a truly aesthetically authentic experience.

I would have been amidst the dissenting voices if they raised the issue about the source of the furniture and the artworks and insisting that all this must be local and clearly marked as such.

It might have even helped in lowing the cost as to many local furniture designers, manufacturers and artists the value of having their pieces in the Deputy Presidents house would be priceless and invaluable.

It is my sincere hope that having read this article to this anticlimactic conclusion you will think value rather than price the next time you need to add an item to your house, office or self as if you reduce your emphasis on price you get something priceless but if you reduce the same on value you get something that is valueless.

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Edition 12

The rich value of garden and mini trampoline

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Today, more and more hotels and homes are bringing recreation and fitness into their own backyard. This is evident that Kenyans have started realizing the immense benefits of joining the fastest moving recreation and fitness trend in Europe and the US – Trampolining!

NASA scientists have discovered that rebounding is 68% more effective as a form of exercise compared to jogging even though one requires less effort. It is just as effective in improving upper and lower body strength as lifting weights at the gym. It is safer considering the damages one would incur when lifting weights such as torn muscles. Rebounding also proves a better sport than swimming which is an all-round sport.

Truth be told, not many people enjoy a jog or a run in the morning. The main demerit of jogging is the amount of stress exerted on the lower limbs and the feet. The jogging increases the pressure on the feet up to four times the weight of the jogger meaning that a person weighing 150 pounds exerts 600 pounds of pressure on the lower limbs and other joints where the weight would be felt.

Using the trampoline takes off almost 80% of the body weight thus reducing the pressure on the joints. The trampoline is not only suitable for children but for the elderly who would normally lead a sedentary life with no strenuous activity. It provides a safe option for the physically challenged and for those who have recently started engaging in physical activity.

Children who use trampoline in Kenya are more likely to achieve better coordination and balance during the play session. The activity involved is simple and also makes them more active which makes the trampoline a better choice than other play activities like cycling.

A trampoline is a better option when different aspects are put into consideration. They are a fun recreation activity and at the same time a fitness tool compared to the television or the computer which do not entail much physical activity. The trampoline promotes interaction between family members while simultaneously achieving general well-being of each person.

Above all, rebounding is fun, interactive and enjoyable. These two attributes enable more people to try it and at a higher frequency. This way they get maximum benefits from the trampoline. It is a holistic approach to both physical and mental growth for children and adults. It has been recommended due to its efficiency as a form of exercise and its convenience compared to other ground based exercises such as running.

Mr. George Irungu, one of the directors of thrifty Enterprises that supplies German Hudora Trampolines in Kenya, advises prospective customers to ensure they consider the brand of the product, the warranty provided and whether the trampoline company has the capacity to provide after-sale services. If you purchase a trampoline from a shop or an individual who cannot supply worn-out fittings when needed, then that may force you to buy another whole trampoline after some time. For safety, a bigger trampoline with safety enclosure is always recommended. More bouncing space ensures your child will be within the bouncing mat all the time.

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Edition 12

Experience style and comfort at Artisan Furnishings

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By Oliver ODHIAMBO

There is an exciting furniture store in Nairobi that has suddenly become the talk of town. This furniture store has barely been in the market for a couple of months, yet the volume of foot traffic and clientele visiting the store is amazing.

Artisan Furnishings isn’t stealing the hearts of many by chance. This furniture store is probably one of the few stockists of quality mid to high end furniture from some of the leading furniture designers in Spain.

“We are here to present the market with an opportunity to experience style and comfort beyond their wildest imagination. That is why our furniture is unique and stylish,” says Mr. Mandeep Kalsi, the firm’s managing director.

“This market is ripe for something exotic and refreshing. The modern trends in the market are reminiscent of the change that is blowing in the air,” he says. “That’s why Artisan Furnishings has pitched tent here to offer unrivalled quality furniture in a market yearning for an experiential buy.”

Quality furnishings

Mr. Kalsi says his firm will not only continue to offer quality furniture to clients, but hopes to expand his product offering to include lighting, rugs, dining tables and chairs, coffee tables, beds, and other high quality furnishings.

Some of the ranges the firm stocks include lines from leading brands in Spain.

“The premium quality ranges from Spain are our leading lines, and offer ultimate style and comfort at an affordable price,” he says.

When a home owner spends a lot of time and effort designing their home, this effort should culminate in the satisfaction of owning furnishings which deserve to adorn their abode. This is where Artisan Furnishings excel in helping in “Defining Lifestyles”.

Reputable brands

Dealing in creative, contemporary and classic premium quality furniture made in Spain, Artisan Furnishings are exclusive agents for five reputable, well established Spanish brands namely Fama, Mobel Yecla, Pedro Ortiz, Piel Confort and Tajoma.

A visit to most furniture stores will reveal a common pattern of design for most pieces. It is very rare to come across a furniture designer and manufacturer who can offer stunning and unique designs, which continuously push the limits of imagination, as well as offer unparalleled quality backed up by extensive guarantees. Fama do precisely this. Their quirky and original designs have to be seen to be believed. Fama’s models like Arianne, Hugo, Josephine, Lenny, MyNest, Pauline and many others look stunning and offer practicality and comfort.

Established in 1971, Fama  are one of the most technologically advanced sofa manufacturers in the world and manufacture a sofa every 1.5 minutes; an achievement attributable to their state of the art manufacturing plant and committed workforce. Their products are sold in more than 40 countries around the world and are backed by the most extensive guarantees in the industry; sofa frames carry a lifetime guarantee, a 10 year guarantee covers the seat suspension and the rest of the sofa has a 2 year guarantee. Fama is an ISO 9001 and AENOR IQnet certified company. Fama also care about the environment and achieve separation and recycling of waste of over 85%.

Fama’s stable of products includes sofas and modulars, chairs and recliners, coffee tables, beds and contract furniture for community facilities, hotels and contract in general. To accommodate the needs of the contract market, customised projects are undertaken where Fama’s design department is prepared to develop new prototypes that can meet the customer’s specific requirements. A “Virtual Simulator” on their website enables a customer to design and fully customise a sofa to their taste.

Mobel Yecla is a family run company established in 1981. They specialise in the production of mid-range sofas, armchairs, recliners, accent chairs and sofa beds upholstered in both fabric and leather. The fabrics and leathers used range from basic to exclusive quality resulting in a range of pricing options. Their products carry a 2 year guarantee.

Pedro Ortiz, a company established in 1965, is run by the same family which founded the organisation. The company strive to manufacture the best quality products at the lowest prices. To achieve this goal, they have embraced technology combined with craftsmanship. Backed by a 2 year guarantee, their furniture ranges from classic to modern and is an ideal choice for discerning clients looking for a contemporary look.

The Piel Confort group was established in 1974. The evolution of the company is marked by its specialisation in leather upholstery as well as offering fabric sofas. Their models, all backed up by 2 year guarantees, are characterised by classic, formal designs giving a feel of luxury and sophistication. Their production process begins with an extensive in-house design and development team creating a hand drawn full scale (1:1) sofa for traditional products or using computer aided design for modern pieces which are then developed, turned into reality and tested before inclusion in the company’s catalogue which also includes contract furniture.

Tajoma specialise in the manufacture of exclusive armchairs. The company has been producing premium quality and exceptionally comfortable furniture since 1988. They are leaders in the armchair market with products backed by 2 year guarantees.

Relax chairs, accent chairs, wooden chairs and pouffes are all offerings from the Tajoma stable. Relax chairs combine both quality and design without losing elegance and are perfect for those moments when you want to relax. Accent chairs are easy to combine with the other furnishings of a room and are versatile enough to be placed in different parts of a room. Wooden chairs offer design encompassing the use of wood which is moulded into artistic forms to create unique and beautiful chairs. Contemporary and classic in design, Tajoma’s pouffes are the ideal accompaniment to their high quality chairs.

In their quest to create unique armchairs with superior comfort levels, Tajoma have utilised the unique Wall Away system in some of their chairs. This system allows the armchair to adapt to the required position even when placed close to a wall thus requiring minimal space to be reclined for maximum comfort. The Wall Away system is available in either a manual or electronic version.

The Power Lift system from Tajoma is ideal for people with disabilities. This system raises the seat assisting the user to easily get up from the chair. An easily accessible remote control placed in an easy to reach pocket on the side of the chair allows the user to select between different degrees of lift according to their specific requirements. The design of the Power Lift system does not require a lot of space to be operated.

Both the Wall Away and Power Lift systems are compatible with each other and can be incorporated in the same chair.

To all those desiring to have good furniture, Mr. Kalsi says their search has come to an end. “Artisan Furnishings will get you exactly what you want. We are here to make you comfortable.”

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