The days of heirloom furniture are over. For buyers and inheritors. No more. That train left the station and there were few passengers on board.
 
 
 
 
Well, for an uplifting, Happy July 4th chit-chatty newsblast from WILLEM SMITH, might it make sense to aim for a more patriotic, feel-good theme? No one needs Debbie-downer pontificating on a day when garland-adorned antique firetrucks crawl through Main Street USA dousing kids in a torrent of Smarties, Tootsie Rolls and Starbursts. And who doesn't look forward to the night sky awash in a multi-sensory extravaganza of noise and color (well, for one, the family dog, no matter their nationality, would rather be in Canada on the Fourth: every canine I know spends 364 days a year staking out a sofa to hide behind when the angry bursts of aerial gunfire inflict their annual torment).
 
 
 
Well, here’s the good news(!). Furniture-buying – and then furniture owning – is about you, today. Let’s call a spade a spade: when Grandma Violet left you the Baker Sheraton-inspired dining table, the matching hutch and 10 chairs, you were conflicted. Sure, it reminded you of the musty-meets-cinnamon smell of Grandma’s house, of those expansive after-church Sunday lunches (when you couldn't wait to ride your bike outside) and the way Grandma assigned seating by putting pink plastic on the granddaughter chairs and blue for the grandsons. But do you really want the furniture? And now that you have it, what will you do with it? Can you sell it? Can you donate it? Should you store it for a few years at $229 per month, then give it away?

Not only is there nothing wrong with Grandma Vi’s stuff – and to the right person, there’s a ton right with it – since it is inherently beautiful, well-built and timeless. But it was hers. Granted, part - perhaps a significant part – of her motivation for stretching her budget and committing to what must have been an enormous purchase was that she (and Grandpa) looked forward to the day their set could be passed on. They may, bless them, have chosen this set not because they loved it more than the other options but because they felt this style was an enduring look that their heirs would appreciate.

Our message: buy furniture for you. Perhaps, for some, one could think of furniture more like a car. First, you know what attributes you appreciate and how much you are willing to pay for those features. You also have a relatively accurate sense of the all-in cost of ownership (you know roughly what you’ll get for it when you’re finished). Fine art is a different beast: while you will derive benefit from looking at it and how it contributes to a space, a significant consideration in your purchase decision algorithm (you have one of those, don’t you?!) includes the future value of your investment even if you never intend to sell it.

But don’t jump to the wrong conclusion: 

(1) We are not advocating for inexpensive, disposable furniture. As designers and makers of
better furniture, we think that you should choose furniture that delivers a consistent level of
satisfaction throughout the (long) ownership experience. If you buy a poorly made (but great-
looking) sofa, it will be ideally-suited for the location that never gets used. If you intend to sit
on it, the promotionally-priced sofa will perform poorly, every time, and will deteriorate
visually as its upholstery, tailoring and substructure quickly succumb to wear. Unfortunately
all of the elements are interdependent: there are some decent, inexpensive frames that sit
surprisingly well but with sub-standard cushions or lousy leather your piece only delivers to the
least of those ingredients.

(2) We don’t believe in over-priced furniture. There’s plenty of very average furniture marketed
as high end. In most of those cases you can get a terrific look but the level of the materials is
uneven and the actual usage experience (the quality of the sit, the ergonomics of the table,
the practicality of the configuration, etc…) can vary tremendously (from tremendous to less-
than-tremendous).

We are suggesting that you be a tad selfish: find the furniture that has the inherent characteristics that resonate with your life. If you’re going to sit on it, sit at it, open and close it or simply gaze at it, don’t compromise: if you appreciate the difference, you've made a great choice. Happy 4th.
 
 
 
 
nantucket music center chair etesian willem smithKathleen Hay Designs
The story of our relationship with award-winning designer Kathleen Hay Designs is typical. Kathleen and some members of her firm first encountered WILLEM SMITH at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York. They spotted, sat and ultimately were smitten by the Capital Chair and the Francisco Metro Swivel. But who were these detail-crazed, comfort-obsessed coconuts from that political snake pit, Washington, DC?

Verifying our legitimacy to ensure that we were everything their first impression purported us to be apparently took some time. We finally received our first Capital Chair order six months later and it has been a terrific partnership ever since. “From a design standpoint,” offered Kathleen, “the pleasing profiles of Capital Chair and the Francisco Metro are great canvases I can dress up in COM fabrics or one of their wonderful leathers. And our clients are always thrilled: the workmanship is top notch and of course WILLEM SMITH’s products all sit so phenomenally well.”

The Capital Chair was launched after we found clients deploying our Etesian Upholstered Arm Chair as a desk and meeting room chair. We added a fancy 5-star swivel-tilt base, re-configured our cutting pattern to institute saddle-stitched seams and tweaked our piErgonom comfort ingredients. Our Capital Chair is ideal for virtually any setting where work needs to be done, from conference rooms and home offices to the Nantucket Community Music Center’s control rooms (shown in photo).

Based on idyllic Nantucket, Kathleen’s internationally-recognized eponymous firm’s residential and commercial design work is concentrated across the geographies of Cape Cod, Boston, New York and Connecticut, but her projects span the globe. Read more about Kathleen Hay Designs.
 
 
 
 
Colina willem smith chairThe Colina
We think that the Amish community builds outstanding solid wood chairs.

When we wanted to offer a solution to go with our Charla table in kitchens, and since we don't settle for second best, we had our friends in Ohio build this marvel of compact comfort. Available in Maple, Oak or Cherry, stained to your palate and top-coated in a durable conversion varnish finish, this chair is a workhorse. Just 17-1/2" wide (to fit a big family at a small table) but with a wonderfully contoured back and full, scalloped seat (for a burst of color, try upholstering it), you'll truly have to sit it to believe it! All at a price that will have you dancing, not sitting.  View on Website
 
 
 
 
Scale
The terms “scale” and “furniture” are employed together in one of two contexts. When used in reference to an individual piece of furniture (in isolation), scale refers to the core design elements of size, proportion and functionality. A small chair may be intended for small people but a small-scale chair may fit all sizes. The interior design concept of scale is the art and science of integrating a piece of furniture in a setting such that its mass and spatial relationship to other pieces in its surroundings and to the overall space itself is consistent and correct.
 
 
 
 
 
Thanks for reading. Sit it to believe it!
John & Mary Smith
Willem Smith Furnitureworks
 
 
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