For the past 8 years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia has been a reliable seller along with a foundation for his livelihood. Inspired by Northern California’s redwood forests, it has modern lines, an oval glass top, as well as 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 rise and provide to shrink-destabilizing the marketplace via a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table as a result of rising cost of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s Los Angeles fabricator were required to start sourcing raw material coming from a new source. There is no guarantee the metal would receive its patinated finish, because it had previously-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and the exact composition of steel affects the results-and Boerner, whose three-person studio makes pieces to buy for top-end clients and retailers like Design Within Easy Reach, couldn’t gamb.le on quality or consistency. To help make it work, he had 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 simply replicable by more vendors.
“Every decision I make is dependant on some kind of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not because of new policy, but through the mere mention of tariffs. “We’re just now returning into production. Each of the steps we must do just because of a response to the marketplace… For any small company, that’s lots of money and we have to scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furniture industry is already feeling the consequences of tariffs, even though they’ve yet to be levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profits, higher retail prices, and a general state of unease are forcing some American designers to evaluate their long-term design and manufacturing plans.
Why did Trump impose tariffs?
The Trump administration’s trade policy has vacillated since it began seriously discussing tariffs-another word for taxes-on metals in February. The reasoning behind tariffs is to make imported goods higher priced in order to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging the creation of counterfeit goods.
Within the weeks after, the administration stated it would exempt some trading partners (Canada, Mexico, and the European Union), but walked back on those claims. It officially began levying tariffs of 25 percent on all steel imports and 10 % on aluminum imports on May 31.
The European Union quickly announced their own tariffs on goods it imports from america, like motorcycles and bourbon, in reaction for the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada stated it would levy their own tariffs on Breakfast Seminyak, too, and began taxing imports of ketchup, beef, and whiskey, among other items in July. To appease some trading partners-like Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea-and avoid 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 affected by tariffs-moves who have cast more uncertainty to the global industry for raw materials and goods.
It’s not only raw materials tariffs which can be affecting the furnishings industry. In April, the Trump administration proposed a 10 % tariff on over $50 billion worth 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 % and expanded it to $200 billion worth of goods, including consumer goods like housewares, furniture, food, and apparel. Soon after, China announced retaliatory tariffs.
The Usa Trade Representative’s office is accepting feedback on the consumer-good tariff proposal up until the end of August, if it holds a public hearing. Afterward, it may modify the tariff’s terms, revise what’s included, and grant exemptions.
In between the tit-for-tat tariffs, the constantly changing terms, and numerous side deals, the only constant inside the trade disputes is volatility-and that’s negatively impacting the furnishings industry.
“It’s just like the famous John Muir quote: ‘When one Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer Indonesia with a single thing in nature, he finds it mounted on the remainder of the world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product imaginable.”