Within the last 8 years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia is a reliable seller along with a foundation for his livelihood. Inspired by Northern California’s redwood forests, it offers 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 jeopardy.
The Trump administration’s announcement, on March 1, of proposed steel and aluminum tariffs caused steel prices to increase and offer to shrink-destabilizing the current market using a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table because of the rising cost of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s L . A . fabricator needed to start sourcing raw material from a new source. There was no guarantee that this metal would receive its patinated finish, since it had previously-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and also the exact composition of steel affects the 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. 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 boils down to some sort of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not due to new policy, but from the mere reference to tariffs. “We’re just now getting back into production. All the steps we must do just due to a reaction to the market… For 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 market is already feeling the effects of tariffs, even when they’ve yet to become levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profit margins, 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 always to make imported goods more expensive so that you can, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging producing counterfeit goods.
Inside the weeks after, the administration said 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 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 response for the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada stated it would levy its 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 get away from more retaliation, the Trump administration made a decision to enact import quotas in lieu of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration continues to be negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively afflicted with tariffs-moves which have cast more uncertainty into the global market 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 % tariff on over $50 billion amount of imports from China, which included 1,300 product categories, including 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.
The United States Trade Representative’s office is accepting feedback on the consumer-good tariff proposal till the end of August, in the event it will hold a public hearing. Afterward, it could alter the tariff’s terms, revise what’s included, and grant exemptions.
Between the tit-for-tat tariffs, the constantly changing terms, and various side deals, the sole constant inside the trade disputes is volatility-and that’s negatively impacting the furnishings industry.
“It’s like the famous John Muir quote: ‘When one Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer Indonesia at a single thing in nature, he finds it connected to the remainder of the world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product you can think of.”