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 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 danger.
The Trump administration’s announcement, on March 1, of proposed steel and aluminum tariffs caused steel prices to go up and supply to shrink-destabilizing the market via 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 La fabricator were required to start sourcing raw material from the new source. There is no guarantee that this metal would receive its patinated finish, as it had previously-since electroplating involves precise chemistry, and the exact composition of steel affects the final results-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, spend money on 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 is dependant on some kind of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not because of new policy, but by the mere mention of tariffs. “We’re just now returning into production. All the steps we need to just do due to a reaction to the current market… For any small company, that’s lots of money and we need to scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furniture industry is already feeling the results of tariffs, even though they’ve yet to become levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profit margins, higher retail prices, along with 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 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 in order to, hopefully, stimulate the American manufacturing industry and protect American intellectual property, discouraging the production of counterfeit goods.
In the weeks after, the administration stated 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 % 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 response to the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada said it would levy its 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 steer clear of more retaliation, the Trump administration chose to enact import quotas rather than tariffs.
Meanwhile, the administration has become negotiating vague trade deals and granting subsidies to businesses negatively affected by tariffs-moves that 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 percent 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 percent and expanded it to $200 billion amount of goods, including consumer goods like housewares, furniture, food, and apparel. Shortly after, China announced retaliatory tariffs.
The Usa Trade Representative’s office is accepting feedback on the consumer-good tariff proposal until the end of August, when it holds a public hearing. Afterward, it might modify 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 only 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 in a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the remainder of the world,’” Boerner says. “Just replace ‘nature’ with any product you can think of.”