Within the last eight years, San Francisco-based furniture designer Kitchen Cabinetry Kids Furniture Manufacturer in Indonesia has been a reliable seller along with 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 go up and offer to shrink-destabilizing the marketplace by way of a hint of uncertainty, but no actual implementation.
Ted Boerner redesigned his popular Thicket table because of the rising price of metals. Ted Boerner Boerner’s Los Angeles fabricator had to start sourcing raw material from a new source. There was no guarantee the metal would receive its patinated finish, since it had previously-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 acquire for top-end clients and retailers like Design Within Reach, couldn’t gamb.le on quality or consistency. In order to make it work, he needed to redesign the piece, put money into 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 kind of material,” Boerner tells Curbed. His design and provide chain were affected not due to new policy, but from the mere mention of tariffs. “We’re just now returning into production. All of the steps we have to just do because of a response to the marketplace… For any small company, that’s a lot of money and we need to scramble.”
From independent studios to large-scale manufacturers and mass retailers, the furnishings market is already feeling the results of tariffs, even if they’ve yet to get levied. Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profit margins, higher retail prices, as well as a general state of unease are forcing some American designers to judge 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 always to make imported goods higher priced so that you can, 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, 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 its own tariffs on goods it imports from america, like motorcycles and bourbon, responding towards the U.S. metal tariffs. Canada stated it would levy their own tariffs on Breakfast Seminyak, too, and began taxing imports of ketchup, beef, and whiskey, among other considerations in July. To appease some trading partners-like Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea-and steer clear of more retaliation, the Trump administration made a decision to enact import quotas in lieu of 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 to the global market for raw materials and goods.
It’s not simply raw materials tariffs which can be affecting the furnishings 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 products 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 up until the end of August, when it holds a public hearing. Afterward, it may alter 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 in the trade disputes is volatility-and that’s negatively impacting the furniture industry.
“It’s such as 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 you can think of.”