Within the last 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 offers 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 at risk.
The Trump administration’s announcement, on March 1, of proposed steel and aluminum tariffs caused steel prices to rise and offer to shrink-destabilizing the marketplace using a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table as a result of rising price of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s Los Angeles fabricator needed to start sourcing raw material from the new source. There was clearly no guarantee that this metal would receive its patinated finish, as it had previously-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and also the exact composition of steel affects the outcomes-and Boerner, whose three-person studio makes pieces to acquire for high-end clients and retailers like Design Within Easy Reach, couldn’t gamb.le on quality or consistency. To make it work, he needed to redesign the piece, invest in 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 kind of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not as a result of new policy, but simply by the mere reference to tariffs. “We’re just now getting back into production. All of the steps we must do exactly because of response to the market… For a small company, that’s a lot 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 profits, 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 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 in order to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging the production 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 % on all steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports on May 31.
The European Union quickly announced their own tariffs on goods it imports from the usa, like motorcycles and bourbon, in response to the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada said 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 chose to enact import quotas in lieu of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration has been negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively afflicted with tariffs-moves who have cast more uncertainty into 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 % tariff on over $50 billion amount of imports from China, which included 1,300 product categories, like 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, 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 numerous side deals, the only constant in 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 in a single part of nature, he finds it attached to all of those other world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product imaginable.”