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Thread: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

  1. #1

    Default DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    I've learned much from this forum and am grateful. My wife and I are moving into a new place and furnishing a somewhat small living room with fireplace. She really likes the style of the Emmy sofa from DWR:

    https://www.dwr.com/living-sofas-sec...tml?lang=en_US

    It starts at $5K for all synthetic fabrics and escalates to $7K for more natural blends (which I'd prefer), though we can wait for their quasi-regular 15% off sales. While we can technically afford such a couch, and it is designed / made in the US (by a group called "Egg Collective"), I'm skeptical of whether it's really worth the price or whether I'm paying a big markup for DWR's overhead. It will also require us to make compromises elsewhere in our budget. Ideally we'd spend more like $3-4K on an 85-92" sofa, thought there is obviously some room.

    My questions:

    1) is anyone familiar with this couch's construction/quality and whether the price seems reasonable? If not, do people generally feel DWR sofas are over-priced, or reasonable given quality (a similarly priced example would be their Raleigh model).
    2) If we can find a suitable substitute, would we get quality that is just as good from, e.g., Taylor-King? A few of their models might fit our style (more modern / sleek / transitional), thought the bulk of their sofas seem more traditional. Any suggestions on other well made sofa lines that might be more transitional/contemporary in style with better bang for buck than DWR?

    The external dimensions of this sofa, which work for our living room, are 30.5 x 92 x 38. It's hard to get more information on build quality than what's on the website, which includes:
    - Solid oak or walnut exterior frame and legs
    - Steel-reinforced plywood interior frame
    - Baffled back cushions with feather-polyester-silk fill
    - High-resiliency foam seat cushions with Dacron wrap

    Thanks an my apologies if this request is too vague. Ultimately, if it's the couch the wife wants, that may be the end of the story, but I feel the need to kick the tires a little harder on this before dropping that much dough. Perhaps we'd simply be paying more for the "design" rather than the construction.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Alexandria VA
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    Default Re: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    You're in luck....we have (1) of those stores in downtown Washington DC and is a couple blocks from where Sarah lives, so she is going to take a "Field Trip" and go check it out, then compare and contrast it to what we carry in the store. They have the model you are interested in the store. Check back here tomorrow for her comments.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  3. #3

    Default Re: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    Quote Originally Posted by drcollie View Post
    You're in luck....we have (1) of those stores in downtown Washington DC and is a couple blocks from where Sarah lives, so she is going to take a "Field Trip" and go check it out, then compare and contrast it to what we carry in the store. They have the model you are interested in the store. Check back here tomorrow for her comments.
    Doubly grateful! Other pieces I'm still negotiating with my better half over include DWR's Lina swivel chair (metal/steel frame), so any opinions welcome there too. Anyway, I eagerly await any demystification on the sofa's quality, will have popcorn at the ready!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    Always happy to take a "field trip" to learn more about what's out there!

    As expected, the DWR showroom is stunning, and is on extremely prime DC real estate on Georgetown's M Street. The showroom had the 90" Emmy Sofa on display in the Pebble Weave Buff Fabric. The sofa was positioned directly in front of the sales counter, which makes sense, as I was told that the Emmy Sofa is one of their best sellers.

    At first glance, it's a modern, aesthetically pleasing sofa, especially the way that it was styled in the showroom. The upholstery craftmanship looked fine and the finish was nice on the exposed wood. The way a sofa sits is very subjective, but to someone who prefers firmer sit, the Emmy felt like sinking into a big pile of pillows - and I mean really sinking, that is a deep sofa! I'm 5'4" and was in heels and my feet didn't touch the ground. With that style of sofa and the down fill in the back pillows, it will need to be fluffed a lot to avoid looking too slouchy. Same goes with the bench cushion, while they aren't as soft as the pillows due to the foam cores, the bench style will show where it is most used (i.e. if you sit in the same spot every night and the middle doesn't get any use) and need to be fluffed to make the surface area even across the seat.

    I asked about the suspension construction, and was told that it was just foam LOL! I felt under the sofa and could feel no springs so it is Pirelli webbing, which is the most prone to stretching and the least desirable material used for suspension. A Pirelli Webbing sofa can be durable, based on how tightly the webbing is pulled and the frame construction, but it is typically done cheaply and by hand, instead of using a machine to ensure it is pulled as tightly as possible. Top tier suspension is 8 way hand tied and mid grade is no sag spring suspension. The frame is plywood, as most frames are these days, but it's hard to tell how high quality the plywood is without seeing the frame. You can see an example of how plywood varies from factory to factory here, and these samples are all from top tier manufacturers: http://www.myfurnitureforum.com/show...hlight=plywood

    I asked about warranty and all I was told was what the website says, "5 years, but terms and conditions may vary". The sofa is made in Canada and lead times vary based on what fabric (or leather) you select. I asked about the Crypton Performance fabric lead times and that is about 5 months, but it appears that some can be made sooner (probably stocked in a warehouse as they only have a few fabrics / leathers married to this frame).

    Is the $5,000 price tag on this worth it? I would say no - you're paying for the brand, the showroom / marketing, and the sleek design.

    Taylor King is going to give you a much higher quality sofa at the same price point - it has plywood frames but it is very thick and the frame construction includes double-doweled or mortise and tenon joints. Suspension is 8 way hand tied suspension. Warranty is lifetime on the frame, seat cushions, and spring construction against defective materials or workmanship. The TK Miles Sofa has a similar style to the Emmy (exposed wood, loose back cushion) and is going to be just under $5,000.00 in a Grade 22 Crypton Performance fabric at our pricing.

    If you're looking for an even more cost-friendly price point that is still high quality, Hooker Furniture's MARQ line has a similar modern design, and features excellent upholstery craftsmanship, no sag spring suspension, and is made in North Carolina. We just brought the Aston Sofa #896-5011 into the showroom and have it priced at $2,589.00 in a fabric comparable to a performance fabric.

    A lengthy answer but I hope this helps!

  5. #5

    Default Re: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    What an amazing piece of reconnaissance, I am deeply indebted! (and sad that I'm not savvy enough yet to suss things out like this myself when I'm in these stores). It confirms some of my suspicions.

    I think you nailed it in that much of DWR's premium is for their "sleek designs", in addition to retail overhead. Now, it is valid to pay something for an iconic design, as a good designer deserves their cut too. And to be fair, there are pieces in their store that are possibly worth ponying up for both the design and construction (I'm thinking, for example, of their danish Moeller dining/side chairs). But I think their broader business model is to commission a designer to produce something, and then to find ways to cut corners on the construction costs. It would be a great store if the latter wasn't the case (but they would lose price-driven customers).

    Another example of this that I saw in their store: the Dulwich extension dining table is sleek looking with a really neat extension mechanism, which definitely required some thought/innovation on the designer's part. But the table top is plywood with veneer, made in Lithuania, and the model I saw in store was already showing some bad chips in the veneer. The customer is lured in by the beautiful design of the table, but regret at dropping $3K on it sets in once it chips (this is rampant in the reviews of the table on DWR's site).

    This is what my own sleuthing on the Emmy sofa last night turned up, on a 2020 Herman Miller conference call (the parent company of DWR):

    "I would like to call out one highlight from the quarter. One of the pillars for accelerating profitable growth in our retail business is joining with leading designers to launch higher margin exclusive designs. Through our partnership with Egg Collective a firm led by three award-winning female designers the Emmy sofa is already our top selling sofa line since its launch in the second quarter of this year."

    Note the emphasis... from what I've learned reading Duane's posts, the more cheaply made products are typically higher margin, so this seems to fit with my thesis on their business model: slick designer, cheaply (or lesser) made product. They pay a higher fixed cost up front on the design, but on a unit-by-unit basis they are making high margins by cutting corners. Perhaps that is simply DWR's value proposition: the furniture is still disposable, but at least it looks great, and that's what you're paying for.

    I think there are several Taylor King sofas that can work for us in a sleeker style (Architect, Berkeley, Boone, Fleming, Gema, Henry), though I'm a little sad I still get a plywood frame for $5K (even though it may be stronger). Now if I can just bring my wife around....

    Many thanks, again, for your enlightening take on this sofa. If I can move us towards something more like a Taylor King, I will give you guys a call.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Location
    Alexandria VA
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    Default Re: DWR sofa quality / suggestions for better bang for buck?

    It’s all about overhead and operating costs. Where the DC store is located is some of the highest price commercial real estate in Washington DC, on “M” Street in Georgetown and costs apps $ 75 sf vs $25 sf where our store is located near Mt Vernon VA. So right off the bat you have 3x the rent. We have only two full time employees, they have probably six times that. And so on…..not to mention designer and marketing costs.

    All that comes back to the consumer in the costs of goods. There is no way they can match our price points apples to apples, we are many times more efficient. So they don’t sell apples they sell bananas, because bananas cost less to bring in.

    Typically trendy stores don’t get price shopped. First of all, what they sell is proprietary product so you can’t shop it. That means you have to compare it to something similar, but not exact, and to do that you need a knowledge base of what to look for and ask questions. Most people do not. They get caught up in the showroom vibe and simply pick a fabric, and off they go. That’s probably 90% of their clients.

    When the store personnel can’t even tell you the suspension on a piece that’s pretty bad. When they say it’s foam, that’s even worse. Sarah was asked if she was a Decorator because of the questions she was asking! I’d love to have one of those sofas to cut-up, I could tell you all about it if I could take it apart. But it’s all a guess on your part if you are up against clueless salespeople and it may or may not have any longevity in the build. And that’s another issue since it’s all proprietary and they would never let you inside the factory where it’s made.

    The suppliers we use are proud to give you a factory tour, because they want you to see what’s put into it. Quite frankly, that’s the only way you can tell a quality piece, you have to see how it’s put together. I’ve been in probably a hundred workshops over thirty five years, I have learned quality from being inside the build process. We refuse to carry junk in our store, there is plenty of it out there, too. Junk brings you dissatisfied customers, who in turn like to give you a piece of their mind. I don’t enjoy conflict or getting yelled at, so the easiest way to avoid that is sell better product!

    Good luck on whatever you decide. If you go with DWR, please come back and let us know how it performs over time and if it met your expectations.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

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