Over the past 8 years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia is a reliable seller as well as a foundation for his livelihood. Inspired by Northern California’s redwood forests, it has modern lines, an oval glass top, along with a base made of richly patinaed steel. Come March of this year, the perennial piece’s future was suddenly in danger.
The Trump administration’s announcement, on March 1, of proposed steel and aluminum tariffs caused steel prices to increase and provide to shrink-destabilizing the marketplace using a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table due to the rising cost of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s La fabricator had to start sourcing raw material from the new source. There was clearly no guarantee that this metal would receive its patinated finish, because it had in the past-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, as well as the exact composition of steel affects the final results-and Boerner, whose three-person studio makes pieces to order for high-end clients and retailers like Design Within Reach, couldn’t gamb.le on quality or consistency. In order to make it work, he needed to redesign the piece, put money into more product development, find new fabricators, and switch to powder coating, since it’s a “more forgiving” finish than plating and easily replicable by more vendors.
“Every decision I make comes down to some kind of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and offer chain were affected not as a result of new policy, but simply through the mere reference to tariffs. “We’re just now getting back into production. All of the steps we need to just do because of a response to the current market… To get a small company, that’s a lot of cash and we need to scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furniture sector is already feeling the consequences of tariffs, even when they’ve yet to become levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profits, higher retail prices, as well as a general state of unease are forcing some American designers to examine their long-term design and manufacturing plans.
Why did Trump impose tariffs?
The Trump administration’s trade policy has vacillated as it began seriously discussing tariffs-another word for taxes-on metals in February. The reasoning behind tariffs is to make imported goods more costly in order to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging the creation of counterfeit goods.
Inside the weeks after, the administration stated it would exempt some trading partners (Canada, Mexico, as well as the European Union), but walked back on those claims. It officially began levying tariffs of 25 percent on all steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports on May 31.
The European Union quickly announced its very own tariffs on goods it imports from the usa, like motorcycles and bourbon, in reaction for the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada said it would levy its own tariffs on Breakfast Seminyak, too, and began taxing imports of ketchup, beef, and whiskey, among other considerations in July. To appease some trading partners-like Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea-and get away from more retaliation, the Trump administration decided to enact import quotas rather than tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration has become negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively impacted by tariffs-moves that have cast more uncertainty in to the global marketplace for raw materials and goods.
It’s not simply raw materials tariffs which can be affecting the furniture industry. In April, the Trump administration proposed a 10 percent tariff on over $50 billion amount of imports from China, which included 1,300 product categories, such as medical equipment, televisions, machine tools, and dishwashers. In July, the Trump administration increased the tariff phoauy to 25 percent and expanded it to $200 billion worth of goods, including consumer goods like housewares, furniture, food, and apparel. Shortly after, China announced retaliatory tariffs.
America Trade Representative’s office is accepting feedback on the consumer-good tariff proposal up until the end of August, when it will hold a public hearing. Afterward, it could change the tariff’s terms, revise what’s included, and grant exemptions.
Involving the tit-for-tat tariffs, the constantly changing terms, and various side deals, the only real constant within the trade disputes is volatility-and that’s negatively impacting the furniture industry.
“It’s just like the famous John Muir quote: ‘When one Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer Indonesia in a single part of nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product imaginable.”