Within the last eight years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia has been a reliable seller as well as 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 in jeopardy.
The Trump administration’s announcement, on March 1, of proposed steel and aluminum tariffs caused steel prices to go up 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 expense of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s La fabricator had to start sourcing raw material from a new source. There is no guarantee the metal would receive its patinated finish, as it had in the past-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, as well as 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 were required to redesign the piece, spend money on more product development, find new fabricators, and change 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 supply chain were affected not because of new policy, but just from the mere mention of tariffs. “We’re just now getting back into production. All the steps we have to just do due to a reaction to the marketplace… For a 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 consequences of tariffs, even if they’ve yet to become 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 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 in order to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging producing counterfeit goods.
Within the weeks after, the administration said it would exempt some trading partners (Canada, Mexico, and also 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 usa, like motorcycles and bourbon, in reaction towards 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 avoid more retaliation, the Trump administration chose to enact import quotas in lieu of tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration has become negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively afflicted with tariffs-moves which have cast more uncertainty into the global marketplace for raw materials and goods.
It’s not only 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, 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 products 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, if it will hold a public hearing. Afterward, it might change the tariff’s terms, revise what’s included, and grant exemptions.
Involving the tit-for-tat tariffs, the constantly changing terms, and various side deals, the only real 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 part of nature, he finds it mounted on the rest of the world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product imaginable.”