The demand for quality vintage furniture is at an all-time high. A new generation of design enthusiasts have started to kick the particle board cabinets and bed frames to the curb and are choosing to incorporate strong, sturdy keepsakes into their personal interior design schemes as they make that awkward transition to adulthood.
But when you’re not buying from the big box retailers the question has to be asked: what exactly are you buying? When furniture is being sourced from all over the world, and sold by small, private vendors, one has to wonder of provenance. Quality (of design, of material) becomes a bit harder to ascertain. Plenty of sellers are eager to cash in on the demand for original, mid-century pieces so buyer beware — what you see is not always what you get.
Never fear though, at least one country known for its wealth of design chops (mid-century and beyond) has stepped up to the plate to help buyers authenticate how and where a particular piece was made — welcome to Denmark! The Danish Furnituremakers’ Quality Control (DFQC) stamp originated in 1959. It ensures that its members are the leading furniture manufacturers and guarantees that a piece is of the highest quality. It was established in direct response to the many American-made knock-offs of the time.
The 1950s saw an unprecedented surge in the popularity of Scandinavian modernism. American manufacturers, quick on the uptake, obtained licenses for the mass production of many Danish designs and set about flooding the market. Initially the Americans upheld the Danes dedication to craftsmanship but as demand blossomed (and the dollars quickly followed) designs were altered to reduce the high cost associated with quality manufacturing though the consumers were often non-the-wiser.
The DFQC was born out of the need for transparency and a seal of approval was developed to establish that. Over time the actual seal has morphed – early on it was branded, then moved to a metal plate, and today they’re most commonly manufactured with a simple black paper sticker — but its meaning has never wavered.
To be a member of the DFQC a manufacturer must follow strict requirements set forth for materials, production methods and overall quality of product. Inspections of member company factories are conducted at random to insure standards are continually upheld. It’s not a stretch to think of the DFQC as the health inspector for couches, kitchen-tables, side-chairs, loungers and mid-century and contemporary masterpieces of all sorts.
The furniture is tested for quality in all sorts of extreme ways. For instance, chairs for are loaded with 154 pounds and then tipped forwards and backwards until they literally break down. The DFQC maintains that a chair should be able to sustain 60,000 tippings, but many Danish manufacturers use this as a number to top, and exceed this considerably and continually.
Check out Krrb for coveted Danish design. Now that you’re armed with a bit of information, scour to your heart’s content. The Danish furniture industry is booming and continues to produce some of the most sought-after furniture. You can’t put a price tag on quality but you can put a DFQC stamp of approval.