Stages in the life of an office chair, part 7: cutting room and sewing room
In the last part of the series we introduced you to Gerhard Schwenke: he gives the Klöber prototype chairs the “GS mark”, so that they can go into series production. Today the story continues in cutting and stitching. Under the management of Judith Schmidt, the visible part of the office chairs is sorted out – we could say all stitched up!
Judith, what is a day in the cutting room like?
In the fabric cutting room, the properties of each fabric group are recorded when the material is put on the rack: for example, the elasticity. All the cutting operations are automatically matched to the fabric being cut. Before leather can be cut to size, we print out the production paperwork. In the case of fabric, the system prints the production paperwork to accompany the roll. The paperwork covers all the important information such as customer, date of manufacture, quantity ordered, colour and the cutting order number – on the basis of this information we can allocate the die-cutters or pre-cut fabric.
Are there peculiarities with the different fabrics and leathers that you have to take account of?
We have more than 100 different fabrics and then there are the special fabrics selected by our customers to go on our chairs. Cloth is delivered in fabric rolls and leather is delivered folded up in cardboard boxes. To avoid creases and pressure marks, it is hung on special leather trestles. So that the leather does not become brittle, the trestles are stored in an air-conditioned room with good humidity. The employees in the cutting room are specialists on fabric and leather: each material requires experience and an instinctive feeling for the material.
Working with leather is more difficult. This starts at the cutting-out stage. Razor-sharp die cutters are needed to get the required precision. In addition, it is more difficult to sew, since every stitch means a hole in the material. If a stitch has to be unpicked, this leaves a hole, and the material can no longer be used.
After the material (fabric or leather) has been cut, it undergoes a quality check. For example, with leather you have to look for notches, scars or other blemishes. Some of these can only be seen when the leather is put under tension.
What happens when faults are found?
Then the cutting process starts anew. If the material is approved, it goes on to the laminator. When leather has been sat upon, it develops what are known as “butt prints”. To avoid these, we apply a thin foam layer with adhesive. This adhesive dissolves at temperatures over 150 C under pressure in the laminator, and bonds the foam to the leather.
From the cutting room, the finished items are taken each day to the stitching room. Here the leather is pared and the fabric trimmed. Then the individual pieces are sewn together, which is when the Klöber logo is added. All upholstery covers are given a visual examination before going on to the upholstery section.
One last question: is there one fabric you particularly like working with, let’s call it a favourite fabric?
All our fabrics are a bit unique. But my favourite fabric is Nova. It provides a high level of comfort. And it’s also good to work with.
Judith, many thanks for a great conversation. In the next part of our office chair series, we shall be looking over the shoulders of our colleagues in the upholstery department.
Do you have any more questions or suggestions? We would be delighted to receive any feedback.