Over the past 8 years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia is a reliable seller and 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 at risk.
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 current market using a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table as a result of rising expense of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s Los Angeles fabricator were required to start sourcing raw material coming from a new source. There was clearly no guarantee the metal would receive its patinated finish, because it had in the past-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and the exact composition of steel affects the final results-and Boerner, whose three-person studio makes pieces to order for top-end clients and retailers like Design Within Reach, couldn’t gamb.le on quality or consistency. In order to make it work, he had to redesign the piece, spend money on more product development, find new fabricators, and move to powder coating, since it’s a “more forgiving” finish than plating and simply replicable by more vendors.
“Every decision I make comes down to some sort of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not because of new policy, but simply through the mere reference to tariffs. “We’re just now returning into production. All the steps we must just do due to a response to the current market… For any small company, that’s lots of money and we must scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furniture industry is already feeling the results 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 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 so that you can, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging producing counterfeit goods.
In the weeks after, the administration said 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 % on aluminum imports on May 31.
The European Union quickly announced its own tariffs on goods it imports from america, like motorcycles and bourbon, in reaction to the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada said it would levy its very own tariffs on Breakfast Seminyak, too, and began taxing imports of ketchup, beef, and whiskey, among other things in July. To appease some trading partners-like Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea-and avoid more retaliation, the Trump administration made a decision to enact import quotas in lieu of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration has become negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively affected by tariffs-moves which have cast more uncertainty into the global industry for raw materials and goods.
It’s not simply raw materials tariffs which are 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, 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 amount 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 till the end of August, if it holds a public hearing. Afterward, it might change the tariff’s terms, revise what’s included, and grant exemptions.
In between the tit-for-tat tariffs, the constantly changing terms, and various side deals, the sole constant in the trade disputes is volatility-and that’s negatively impacting the furniture industry.
“It’s like the famous John Muir quote: ‘When one Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer Indonesia in a single thing in nature, he finds it mounted on all of those other world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product you can think of.”