Liam O’Donnell, director, Valdivian furniture, has the Last Word.

Liam O'Donnell

Liam O’Donnell, director, Valdivian Furniture

Hospitality furniture styles are frequently changing and the market is fast paced and unforgiving, with popular hotels and restaurants undergoing refurbishment to remain competitive. Furniture styles, materials and woods take centre stage, with these forming entirely new looks to be admired. However, upholstery can often be overlooked whilst it is actually a key element to achieving stunning Design outcomes.

Tailoring upholstery fabrics to themes

With upholstery styles changing frequently, it can be difficult to ascertain which new fabrics to use that will keep clients satisfied whilst maximising footfall for hospitality businesses. It is therefore important to think beyond the qualities of the fabric itself and extend the consideration to the look, style and texture that will compliment the overarching theme of the establishment. For example, if the theme is uber modern with an industrial look, fabrics should be muted, sophisticated and minimalistic. Conversely, culturally themed restaurants may warrant warmer tones with patterns that mimic the food and atmosphere. The same goes for luxury establishments, with these often using more decadent materials, such as velvet and embroidered materials. It is important to be able to tailor the upholstery requirements to the rest of the space and manufacturers must have sound knowledge of Industry trends and popular looks in order to provide a spectacular final product.

Safety is paramount

When working with clients in the hospitality or public sectors, upholstery must adhere to tight health and safety requirements in order to be safe for use and fit for purpose. This means that all materials, in particular fabrics, must meet specified ignition requirements as outlined in the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations. Additionally, upholstery composites must be cigarette and match resistant, with clear permanent labels being added to every new item of furniture. This is particularly important when sourcing fabrics from other locations outside of the UK as they may have different sets of regulations.

The importance of eco

When considering upholstery fabrics, durability, resilience and aesthetics are placed as a first consideration with the use of harsh chemicals, synthetic materials and unsustainable production methods being placed as an afterthought. This can undermine efforts to use sustainably sourced woods for interiors and limit eco objectives. To ensure that furnishings are environmentally friendly, seek out manufacturers that offer sustainable upholstery options alongside certified woods - this will often be stated on a manufacturer’s website and during initial consultations. In order to remain competitive as a hospitality furniture manufacturer, environmental considerations can no longer be an afterthought.