Why handmade sofas are better - and why we make our sofas in London
Wondering why handmade sofas are better? Raft is unusual as a small business. We both design and make our sofas. We have high standards and will do what it takes to meet them. Even if it means building our own Raft sofa factory here in North London. Sound extreme? Here’s why it made sense...
Raft sofas are designed and handmade in Britain. Specifically, they’re manufactured in North London at our own purpose-built Raft factory. For most upholstery businesses, sacrificing the savings of cheap overseas labour wouldn’t stack up. However, for Raft founders Mick Quinn and Heinz Frye, it was a question of common sense.
Here are six reasons why handmade sofas are better and why we make them ourselves in London:
1) We can make exactly the sofas we want
At Raft we take sofas seriously. Mick and his team have strong ideas about what makes a good design, and Heinz is obsessive about materials and making things properly.
Having the design and manufacturing teams work so closely is the only real way of turning our ideas into reality without compromising on quality and standards.
“We wanted sofas made to the highest standards - like our wooden furniture, distinctive designs rendered in the best materials. Fabrics, frames, springs and so on. The only way we could get the sofas we wanted for our customers was to build our own Raft factory.” Heinz, founder and operations.
2) We control the quality...
Having our own factory means we can choose and train our own team. Each sofa is handmade with care by our skilled upholsterers, frame makers, cutters and machinists. They’re built to last in real, everyday family homes.
We construct our sofa frames from kiln-dried solid hardwood and each comes with a 10-year guarantee. The materials we use are all high quality. D’arc Serpentine springs and top-quality Pirelli seat webbing for comfort and longevity. Specific densities of foam are chosen and wrapped in bio-cleaned feathers. Alternatively, we also offer hypoallergenic hollow fibres upon request. This is the perfect option for someone looking for a vegan sofa. You simply can’t control quality that closely when you outsource the manufacturing.
3) ...Yet offer great value for money
Having an integrated supply chain where we do the design, manufacturing and sales ourselves has huge benefits. Not only does it mean that the quality is fantastic, but also that we can sell our sofas at an honest and fair price. This means that our products are a fantastic investment.
Plus, making things ourselves is our idea of fun. As founder and designer Mick put it: “We’re just fascinated by how things are made, what they’re made of. ”
4) We can maintain our ethical standards
At Raft, our ethics are at the heart of everything we do. Our wooden furniture is made from sustainably sourced, FLEGT certified teak. As for our sofa frames, we only use certified hardwood from responsibly-managed European forests, and everything that goes into the sofa interiors - including fibres and foam - is sourced in the UK.
Our range includes 100% natural cotton, linen, unbleached linen and wool, mostly from European weaving sheds. We have a wool range made from 50% recycled materials, and for our leather we insist on sourcing from environmentally-friendly tanneries which meet strict European regulations and animal welfare standards, and which cure, preserve and tan leather properly.
As with quality standards, having complete control over our own manufacturing means we never have to compromise on our principles.
5) We can make bespoke sofas for our customers
Being able to make bespoke sofas for individual customers has always been an important part of Mick and Heinz’s vision. Having our own local factory - keeping the close ties between sales, design and manufacturing - gives us that flexibility.
As a Raft customer, you can choose precisely how you’d like your sofa to be made. From the design and material to the size and different dimensions. We also offer most of our sofas as sofa beds and have beautiful, high quality leathers available, too. Our in-house designers can help you to create your vision, and then work closely with our craftsmen to make it a reality.
“Manufacturing locally means we can adapt specifications and update styles very easily and that’s important for our sofa customers”. Heinz
6) It’s good to keep it local
We have nothing against overseas manufacturing if it's the right thing for the product in terms of quality. In fact, we have our own reclaimed and sustainably sourced teak factory in Java. However, we love that here we can create jobs in North London and put something back into the local community. Mick Quinn was born and raised in North West London by his single mother in Neasden. For him, the chance to offer people like him an opportunity in a place like Raft is what it's all about. Raft is a company that thrives off of community.