The future of custom furniture is digital

The steady increase in customer requests for personalized fashion and furniture pieces is placing constant strain on the business models for these manufacturers. 

Jon Wheat, Creative Director for Design in Rhythm (DiR) recently commented on the issue. 

"My clients, boutique hotel chains and the designers I work with at high-end luxury homes, all want something unique. They can't get it from the major brands, so they are turning to businesses like mine. But I couldn't keep up until I made the switch to digital."


the future of custom furniture

Digital design, patterning, printing and production

In order to showcase the workflow and the benefits of the digital process, ExactFlat, working in conjunction with industry partners for 3D design, digital textile printing and automated cutting, recently completed an end-to-end showcase of the process. The workflow mirrored and accelerated each of the steps requested by DiR.


During the initial phases of the process the client provides insight into the furniture piece they are looking for.  Most projects begin with a conversation regarding the look and "feel" of the space as well as the piece of furniture being designed. The conversation usually results in the selection of an "inspiration" model with requests for changes to specific features (ex. seat width, back height, material type, etc...). More and more frequently, the clients are interested in custom graphics used to tie the piece to the look of the space.


In the digital environment all of the changes and customizing are completed on a 3D Design model.  3D CAD software, sample models and expert users are ubiquitous. This makes it easy to first capture the design, then present a concept for the piece, and then to quickly edit the model until it meets the needs of the client.

 The approved 3D design is then prepared for production by the pattern maker.  Cut lines and seam locations are defined and the model is ready for flattening. 3D to 2D pattern flattening is automated using the digital patterning tools available in ExactFlat Monarch. Pattern pieces are optimized, and Strain and Sag plots are used to ensure fit.

Pattern engineering and material optimization

The last stage of the pre-production process is pattern engineering. In this phase the pattern details such as seams, edge labels, notches and piece tags are added to the 2D pattern. And again, since the master model includes associations between the pattern pieces, their relative orientation and edges, changes on one piece are automatically reflected in all of the adjacent pattern pieces. There is no need to manually track and edit the pattern.

Production-ready output

Once the pattern engineering and optimization is complete the job(marker) is ready for automated production and assembly steps. Industry- standard DXF and Tiff output files go directly to the production team for printing and cutting.  Assembly aids such as notches and labels are integrated into the patterns.  

Digital patterning streamlines the pre-production steps, dramatically reducing cycle time and virtually eliminating error costs. The integration of these tools provides the only practical way to deliver customize furniture pieces in a timely, cost-effective manner.