Over the past eight 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 has modern lines, an oval glass top, and 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 go up and provide to shrink-destabilizing the market by way of 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 La fabricator needed to start sourcing raw material coming from a new source. There was clearly no guarantee that the metal would receive its patinated finish, as it had previously-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and the exact composition of steel affects the outcomes-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 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 easily replicable by more vendors.
“Every decision I make is dependant on some sort of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not as a result of new policy, but through the mere mention of tariffs. “We’re just now getting back into production. Each of the steps we need to do exactly due to a reaction to the current market… For a small company, that’s lots of money and we must scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furnishings sector is already feeling the consequences of tariffs, even if they’ve yet to get levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profit margins, 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 because it began seriously discussing tariffs-another word for taxes-on metals in February. The reasoning behind tariffs would be to make imported goods more costly to be able to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging producing counterfeit goods.
Inside 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 percent on aluminum imports on May 31.
The European Union quickly announced its own tariffs on goods it imports from the United States, like motorcycles and bourbon, responding to the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada stated 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 get away from more retaliation, the Trump administration decided to enact import quotas rather than tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration continues to be negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively afflicted with tariffs-moves who have cast more uncertainty into the global industry for raw materials and goods.
It’s not simply raw materials tariffs that are affecting the furniture 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 amount of goods, including consumer items 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 will hold a public hearing. Afterward, it may change 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 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 with a single thing in nature, he finds it connected to all of those other world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product imaginable.”