Tailored to Perfection
"It’s very exciting for us, as it’s the first time we’re putting the design in the customer’s hands,” explains our Co-Founder Sue Jones when asked about OKA’s first made-to-order seating collection, Tailored by OKA. The collection comprises four classic styles, one footstool, four fabric options and 28 colors, so no two pieces ever need look the same.
“We’ve always been known for creating modern heirlooms, so it was important that the sofas be exceptionally well-made so they could be loved and passed down for generations,” explains Sue. “Of course, the key to longevity is quality; they really needed to be as good on the inside as they look on the outside.”
As simple as the brief sounds, it took many years to find the perfect sofa maker to help bring the vision to life.
We really wanted the sofas to be made by hand, using traditional methods. And since OKA started out as a small brand founded by friends, with a love for beautifully made pieces, we wanted to collaborate with a company with the same ethos.
The third-generation family-owned business eventually chosen is staffed by some of the most passionate and skilled craftsmen in the business, who have been handmaking furniture in America since the 1950s. Every step of the process happens in their North Carolina workshop, a creative hub where talented artisans who dedicate their hands and hearts to crafting extraordinary pieces thrive.
To ensure quality and ownership, a team with in-depth knowledge of everything from furniture construction to fabric upholstery is responsible for making an entire sofa, a process known in the industry as “frame to finish.”
When it came to design, the main goal was to keep things simple. To create sofas that could truly fit into anyone’s home, regardless of size or style. “Each of the four sofas is very different to the other, but what they do have in common is that they are so beautifully uncomplicated and extremely comfortable. You can find embellishment and print in our core sofa collection, but with Tailored we really wanted craftsmanship and comfort to take center stage, through the shapes, structure and even the stitching,” says Sue.
The designs were also guided by patterns in the industry: “the traditional English sofa is definitely in the spotlight at the moment, with a huge increase in demand over the past couple of years,” Sebnem Barker, OKA’s Head of Trade, muses. “Our customers were telling us they want softer seats, curves and a really good balance of classic and contemporary, that works in real ‘lived-in’ spaces.”
The four shapes currently available are a combination of classic and contemporary styles, with the construction varying to give each its signature look. The Beale’s short, tapered, birch legs, square arms and low sitting frame give it a modern, clean-cut aesthetic. The Highmore, on the other hand, has rounded arms and a classic curvaceous silhouette. If it’s versatility you’re after, meet the Egerton, which features gently sloping arms and sumptuous seat cushions. Last, but not least, is the Radcliffe, the embodiment of minimalism, with simple lines and flared arms. Completing the collection is the Fanshawe Footstool, a simple, elegant generalist, whose two shapes can also be made to match.
All styles are available in four fabrics: Belgian linen (either stonewashed or laundered) and our innovative “clever” velvet and “clever” linen. The latter are our latest launches, which have been created to retain the looks and feel of the original fabrics but with increased durability. Clever velvet has been designed by a UK-based family business to be invitingly soft and at the same time incredibly resilient. The durable material is water-resistant and doesn’t fade, mark or stain, yet has the same luxurious look and feel of traditional velvet. This state-of-the-art fabric is crafted in Italy and comes in 10 colors, seven of which are new and designed to complement OKA’s signature color palette and furniture.
In total, our Tailored by OKA fabrics are offered in 28 shades, ranging from neutral Oyster-hued linen to a dense Charcoal velvet, and a whole spectrum of bold hues in between. You’re bound to find a color that perfectly complements whatever interior style you’re working with.
Back in the workshop, the pattern cutting and sewing all happens in-situ alongside the sofa construction. As soon as the covers are complete, the maker can apply them to their handiwork. Then it’s time for the finishing touches, like the seat, back or arm cushions, and removable birch legs. “A lot of work went into the construction of the legs, they are such a key component, and they are so often overlooked,” Sue says.
I couldn’t be happier with how the collection has turned out and I’m excited to see how the sofas will lend a personal touch to homes in the States.
You can view the Tailored by OKA collection online, where you can also order up to five complimentary fabric swatches. If you want to take a closer look you can pop into our stores to see samples.