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What sells? The key to good furniture design

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Olivia Lowry
What sells? The key to good furniture design

This week's blog is written by John O'Leary, Design Director at Swyft. 

John O'Leary Swyft design director

Design is at the core of our business. It helps drive product innovation, and solve the real needs of our customers. But what does it mean to be design-led, and what is good design?

At Swyft we have created our own set of design principles to help guide the development process of all new products. These principles are fundamental to what we believe makes good products, products that are consistent with our core values at Swyft. 

Our design principles can be grouped under 5 categories: 

  1. Quality 
  2. Price
  3. Style
  4. Function 
  5. Environment

swyft key design principles furniture design principles function style quality environment price

Quality - No Compromise

When faced with a problem or design challenge, we don’t take the quick, easy route out if we feel there is a better solution to be explored. Attention to detail is key, always strive for the best possible solution within given constraints.

Model 01 flat pack sofa sofa in a box swyft-lok furniture design clever furniture design furniture innovation

When designing Model 01, our first product, we had the challenge of designing a fixing system that allows elements, eg back, arms etc, to be secured together quickly, by one person, without the need for tools.

swyft-lok system no-tool assembly furniture modular furniture slot together sofa

We chose to develop high-quality, custom locking components that satisfied the functional requirements but were also in keeping with the Swyft modern, minimal aesthetic. The parts were originally made from die-cast aluminium with a tactile Swyft blue finish applied to reinforce the branding and quality feel of the product. 

Model 04 sofa bed furniture design innovative design swyft home


We faced similar challenges when designing our sofa bed, Model 04. It would have been easy to opt for a more conventional pull-out bed mechanism, or clik-clak folding system. We felt these had limitations in terms of functionality and aesthetics, so instead set about designing a custom system which better fulfilled our requirements for the product. This meant designing from the ground up, which is a more uncertain route, but did allow full control over the styling, quality and how the customer could interact with the product. We wanted to design a product that could offer a great night’s sleep, but also hold its own as the main sofa in a living room. Designing our own custom components meant we didn’t have to compromise on either function. 

Price - Value for Money

When developing new products we always aim to remove what doesn’t add value, and design out inefficiencies where possible and appropriate. This is a constant, iterative process and doesn’t end at product launch.

furniture design mechanism design furniture design innovation swyft sofas

Producing our own products allows us to continually work on product improvements and efficiencies – whether product or component-related or process driven. This ensures that we can offer our customers the highest quality product for the price they pay.

Furniture design upholstery furniture factory sofa factory quality furniture

Style - Timeless Design

At Swyft, we strive to make products that have a timeless appeal, products that can sit comfortably in almost any living environment.

To achieve this, we reduce complexity where possible. We lean towards a cleaner, minimal look that's underpinned by precision, honesty, and craft. We aim to produce products that are not fad-driven, but instead create a style that will endure over time.

furniture design swyft sofas furniture design drawing concept sketch cad drawing design drawing

Function - Less, But Better

Our customers’ needs are of primary concern when designing new products at Swyft. When starting the business we set out to solve some of the issues that we had experienced ourselves with furniture such as access issues, long lead times, and difficult and time-consuming assembly. Solving these challenges became the pillar around which we built our design function. We drew up a list of functional guidelines which are the starting point for the development of any new Swyft product.
  • The product must solve a problem or satisfy a real need.
  • It should integrate innovation where necessary and appropriate.
  • The product should be quick and easy to assemble by one person, without the need for tools.
  • It should be guaranteed to fit into any property.

And it must achieve these in the most economical, efficient way possible, adhering to the ‘less, but better’ philosophy.

Environment - Healthy Products

We all have a responsibility to minimise our negative impact on the environment. Sustainability has been an important consideration for the business from its inception. First and foremost, our products are built to last in our own factory in Portugal and designed to work for decades. We are careful about the materials we use, where they come from, and their environmental impact. 

swyft sofa boxes sofa in a box boxed furniture flat pack furniture cardboard boxes recyclable boxes

Our most recent sofa, Model 06, was designed for easier dismantling of component parts for end-of-life refurbishment and/or recycling. We are working towards a more closed-loop system whereby valuable resources can be kept within the supply chain and re-used, diverting waste from landfill and reducing the carbon footprint of production.

Model 06 green sofa modular sofa sustainable furniture sustainable production sustainable manufacturing

We are also currently working with suppliers of key components such as packaging, fillings and fabric to find better, more sustainable alternatives to build upon some of the good work we have already done. We have a long way to go but having sustainability at the heart of design and development thinking ensures we continually challenge ourselves and the wider impact our products have, whether that be the materials we use, the production processes we employ or the transportation, delivery and removal of our goods.

Furniture maker upholsterer furniture factory sofa manufacturing sustainable factory sustainable homeware brands

This week's blog is written by John O'Leary, Design Director at Swyft.
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