For over a decade, Furnature has been setting the standards for quality custom-made, environmentally friendly furniture by meeting the needs of those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.
“In the spring of 1994, our firm received a request for a custom sofa from a woman that would change the face of our business. Her immune system was compromised after her home was exterminated for pests. She became so ill that she couldn’t tolerate ordinary furniture and bedding. After three years of extensive research, the first sofa using all chemical-free ingredients was produced and Furnature™ was born.”
Their furniture has become popular with people who want to live a sustainable life free of harmful environmental toxins. Today, the Company manufactures an extensive line of chairs, loveseats, sofas, ottomans, mattresses and bedding for both the environmental conscious and those suffering from multiple sensitivities.
What does all this mean for the eco-conscious?
At Furnature, you have a choice of organic or non-organic fabric or you can provide your own fabrics. All the stains and sealers are nontoxic and their glues are water-based. There is no formaldehyde in their furniture.
The Company uses sustainable woods, and the cushions are made of natural latex or organic cotton wrapped around springs. Ninety percent of their customers opt for natural latex cushions.
There are no chemical flame retardants used in the Company’s furniture. Therefore, they have eliminated the possibility for any potentially harmful flame retardants to dissipate into our bodies.
Studies have shown that the breast milk of American women contains higher amount of PBDE flame retardant than their European counterparts. Two out of the three types of PBDEs were phased out in 2005. Additionally, there has not been any long term studies on the effects of the current flame retardants. In order to avoid the use of chemical flame retardants and comply with California’s fire laws, the Company inserts organic wool in its cushions. Wool is a natural flame retardant.
On their website, there are a couple of different styles of furniture, which vary in price range based upon the type of furniture, style, and fabric chosen. The website only contains a few of the styles that they manufacture. They have a portfolio of many different styles of furniture from traditional to contemporary. If any one of their styles does not meet your needs, the Company can make a custom piece for you.
A typical couch can be quite pricey, with an average price of $5000 depending on your choices of fabric and style.
Why is their furniture so expensive I wondered? Donna Halloran, the general manager for Furnature, explained that Furnature is a small company that makes each piece by hand in their factory in Boston,Massachusetts. This method allows them the ability to make a custom piece for each customer.
In addition, natural latex cushions are more expensive to use than conventional foam cushions. Think of Furnature’s furniture as heirloom quality.
I always assumed all upholstery pieces were required to contain flame retardants. Donna told me that there is no requirement for residential upholstery to contain flame retardants (except in California), but the Upholstery Furniture Action Council (UFAC) urges manufacturers to comply for fire safety reasons. Many other furniture pieces will have a gold UFAC tag, indicating that it is made in accordance with UFAC methods designed to reduce the likelihood of upholstered furniture fires from smoldering cigarettes.
In addition, many company use polyurethane foam with flame retardants because California requires all furniture to contain flame retardant.It is just easier to manufacture one product for everyone, Donna explained. As indicated above, Furnature inserts wool in their cushions and mattresses to compile with California’s law.
All of their latex cushions are wrapped in organic cotton ticking.However, some people are allergic to natural latex, or have a sensitivity towards the smell of latex. Donna further explained they have been successful in wrapping their cushions to abate the smell for those that can not tolerate it. If you have or suspect you have a latex allergy, check with your doctor if you can tolerate the latex if it is wrapped.
Furnature has gone to great lengths to produce furniture that chemically sensitive people can tolerate. None of their workers can smoke or wear cologne. Furnature’s experiences have taught them that some chemically sensitive people can actually smell the cologne or smoke in their fabric that emanates from Furnature’s employees.
How green is Furnature as a company?
They restored an old factory utilizing natural and low voltage lighting to reduce its electrical usage. Additionally, the Company tries to use all of their raw materials, and the scraps are donated for use to other companies, so there is very little waste.
They try to use recycled paper as much as possible.
Although Furnature’s pieces are pricey, their furniture is made to last. Their pieces are the type of furniture that you will hand down from generation to generation. Just think of their furniture as investment in your health as well as your wallet.
Photos by permission of Furnature