Designing Better Futon Furniture

Furniture manufacturers often introduce new products and improve them over time. The futon industry has also followed this pattern over the years. The construction of a futon frame is made up of several primary parts. They include a series of arms, guides, seats and back sections. Futon manufacturers vary the way they make these parts and the materials they use in building these frames. Obviously not all futon frames will be made equal and some manufacturers incorporate in their products unique designs or features that distinguish them. In this article, we will examine several current popular manufacturers of futon frames that have brought design innovations to the industry, their stories, as well as the construction techniques and features they have developed over the years.

The story of August Lotz:

August Lotz began in 1897. Located in Wisconsin, they began manufacturing wooden beekeeping equipment. Shortly thereafter they would expand into the production of wooden furniture components for different furniture manufacturers creating a niche for themselves in that sector. In the early 90’s the company was bought by Mark Barton and Mark Schlichter. They wanted to create refined solid wood furniture, futon furniture to be precise at a time when the futon industry was still quite young. Mark Barton was chief engineer and developed the existing designs used today in August’s Lotz futon frame line.

Its August Lotz futon frame design is unique compared to other products across the market. The slats of the seat and back section are designed with an English dovetail joint system that joins the sections of the slat grid to the back and sections of the seat shelf. While many manufacturers were using simple staples or nails for their slatted support systems, Lotz was ahead of its time by incorporating high-end old-world construction techniques into every August Lotz futon frame.

August Lotz frames are made of oak and many styles are available in a medium finish or an English oak finish. August Lotz was purchased several years ago by a Wisconsin manufacturer named Cut Industries. The same commitment to design and quality of materials has remained the same. Their convertible sofas won the Consumer Digest Best Buy Award for premium futon frames. A prize awarded to less than 5% of producers in a specific sector. While the parent company Cut Industries offers domestic production, August Lotz products are imported with the same specifications and the same designs that have earned them the title of “best value on the market”.

The history of LifeStyle solutions:

Founded in 1989 under the name Elite, LifeStyle Solutions entered the market with some unique designs of its kind. They were among the first brands to incorporate Asian-inspired materials and designs into several lines of futon frames and made an impact with their front-operated and easy-to-open futons.

LifeStyle Solutions imports its line of futon products from Indonesia, manufactured according to their specifications. It has always been important for LifeStyle Solutions that their products were made from sustainable forests and that their pieces were made from hard woods grown from ITTO (International Tropical Timber Organization) certified plantations. LifeStyle Solutions has also obtained the sustainable forest management certificate which proves that its production materials are legally collected from well managed forests as defined by a complete list of regulations.

CEO Sean Pathiratne leads this rapidly growing furniture company and has built a reputation for creating exceptional quality and value in every futon frame of LifeStyle solutions. Much of the LifeStyle Solutions futon furniture has a transitional design that will allow it to blend in well with modern and traditional home furnishings.

The history of Night & Day furniture:

Since the late 1990s, Night & Day Furniture was founded by Mike Gallawa. His simple goal was to create futon frames that could be easily converted from sofa to bed, making sure that the bolts could be aligned and ensuring that there is less hardware to handle for the end user. Night & Day Furniture has solved these problems with several patented features present in the Night & Day Furniture line.

Night & Day furniture products are made of rubber wood grown on an ecological plantation. Rubberwood is part of the maple wood family and offers a dense grain that helps the oven drying process. Rubberwood trees produce latex and at the end of their cycle they are cut down and replaced with new seedlings. Made in Malaysia. Night & Day futon frames are made according to the highest quality and construction standards.

Night & Day Furniture futons incorporate several design features that are said to facilitate assembly for the end user. The patented TM shoe fitting operating system incorporates several types of unique hardware applications. Snapper TM offers snap-on assembly and easy front conversion of the seat and back sections. ThumbNut TM is a barrel-shaped nut that eliminates the movement of the nut during assembly without the need for additional tools. Shoe Fittings TM systems are available in bronze or gold depending on the functionality available.

In this article we took a look at several major futons furniture manufacturers. August Lotz, founded in the late 1800s, went from the production of beehive equipment for wooden bees to the creation of bridges with a wooden structure using sliding English dovetail joinery. Mark Barton was Lotz’s chief engineer and created most of the concepts and designs used across the board today. LifeStyle Solutions was originally founded under the name Elite and is an import manufacturer that has introduced transition projects in the futon sector. LifeStyle Solutions was among the first brands to incorporate Asian-inspired designs and finishes throughout their line. Finally Night & Day Furniture founded by Mike Gallawa. Night & Day wanted to take a unique approach to futon design by simplifying the way futons go together. The development of patented hardware and assembly methods have allowed them to simplify the assembly of a futon frame.

I have always found interesting how different manufacturers approach furniture design. Often many of the aspects of the design are similar or the same, but sometimes manufacturers take a unique approach to design or devise a radically new concept that makes that piece of furniture much better than other products on the market. This is the case for these manufacturers who have found ways to take an existing product line and make it even better.


by Phil Pendleton

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