Which Leather Sofa is Better – Article Sven or Poly & Bark Nappa? Is it OK to Buy Sofas Online?

by | Jun 16, 2022 | Ask the Expert, Buying Furniture Online, Furniture Brands, Furniture Construction, Furniture Manufacturers, Leather Furniture, RTA Furniture, Sofas & Couches | 0 comments

Question:

I am shopping online for a leather sofa and narrowed it down to the Article Sven or the Poly and Bark Nappa sofas. Which one is better? Is it OK to buy these sofas online?

June 16, 2022

Answer:

The Article Sven and Poly & Bark Nappa sofas are very similar.

One huge advantage of shopping online is a free trial period, usually 30 days, during which you can return the sofa at no charge.

Refund and repair policies are often more generous online than brick and mortar stores.

Reviews I have seen indicate that people who have purchased both of these sofas are happy with them

The Article Sven and Poly & Bark sofas are an excellent value.

But they are “good quality” furniture, not the “top quality” product that many shoppers think they are getting. 

The Poly & Bark Nappa and Article Sven sofas appear to be almost identical.

The sofas are the same length, width and height.

They are both available in the same Cognac Tan leather.

They both have round arm bolsters.

Neither Article nor Poly & Bark are manufacturers.

Both Article and Poly & Bark make their furniture in various Asian factories located in Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and India.

The fact that both companies offer the same leather indicates they are buying their sofas from the same factory.

Sofa marketing materials can be deceptive.

Marketing terminology often fools furniture shoppers, salespeople and industry professionals.

According to many reviews, shoppers believe that the Article Sven and Poly & Bark sofas they are purchasing are “high quality” furniture that will last a lifetime.

These sofas should provide comfortable seating for at least 10 years.

But they should not be expected to last 20+ years the way true “top quality” furniture does.

High-quality features promoted in the marketing materials include:

Full-grain pure-aniline Italian tanned leather upholstery

Corner blocked kiln-dried solid wood frame

High-density foam with polyester filling.

Feather down topper on seating surfaces.

Feather down and fiber blend seat-back cushions and bolsters

Loose, non-reversible seat and back cushions

Pirelli webbing

Solid wood legs in a walnut finish

Home furnishing articles frequently list these features as indications of high quality.

But there are ways to cheat on these specifications.

The sofa descriptions and specifications include deceptive terminology.

These deceptions do not make this “bad quality” furniture, but it may not be what people think they are buying.

Here is the list of features again – this time with my notes italicized in Red:

Full-grain pure aniline leather.

Full-grain, pure aniline leather is touted by many salespeople and interior design professionals as being the “best of the best.”

Many of the reviews written about these sofas cite the top quality leather as a reason for the purchase.

Some articles will state that only 2% of leather furniture is made with this quality of leather.

Those articles may state that full-grain pure aniline leather is the most expensive (and best) type of leather available.

The full-grain leather used on these sofas is different.

It is very cheap leather, not the top 2%.

Most leather upholstery manufacturers do not make furniture with this type of leather.

This leather starts off with low quality (full-grain) hides with massive imperfections.

Cutters remove the worst flaws, slicing and dicing the small remaining portion of the hide into multiple small pieces.

These 88″ sofas are made from 44 separate small leather pieces.

The cost of the leather hides used here is minimal, but there is extensive wastage from each hide.

A large percentage of the leather’s total cost is in the extensive sewing needed to piece the small hide pieces together.

Working with thick, full-grain hides requires special machinery.

Sewing 44 pieces of thick hides together for each sofa requires a low-cost Asian labor force.

The leather is minimally processed.

Like high-quality full-grain leathers, it scratches and stains easily and requires periodic cleaning and maintenance.

Over time, the patch-work leather will soften and acquire a patina.

The tufting and numerous seams are more susceptible to problems over time, but I have not seen any indications in current reviews that any purchasers have experienced these types of problems.

This is not the top quality leather many people think they are getting, but it does provide many of the same characteristics at a lower price.

Corner blocked kiln-dried solid wood frame.

There is one critical word missing from this description that is necessary for a high-quality frame, “Hardwoods.”

High-quality furniture is made with high-density hardwoods. These frames are probably made using softwoods or a cheaper low-density hardwood species such as Poplar.

The frames should still give at least 10 years’ good service, but they are not top-quality frames.

Pirelli webbing foundation

High-quality non-stretchable Pirelli webbing can be found in high-end modern sofas.

The Pirelli webbing used here is almost certainly the less costly “stretchable” seat support webbing.

A YouTube video of an older Article Sven sofa shows that the seat support is sagging and uncomfortable.

That is characteristic of stretchable webbing over time, especially when stapled into a softwood or engineered wood frame.

If you don’t jump on the furniture, stretchable Pirelli webbing can still give you 10 years’ service.

The top-quality “non-stretchable” webbing lasts for 20+ years.

High-density foam with polyester filling.

The “high-density” foam description indicates these sofas are made with 1.8 density polyurethane foam.

On a standard three seat sofa, with three separate seat cushions, the average lifespan would be about 5 years.

But larger cushions hold up longer.

The single large cushion should hold up considerably longer than 5 years.

“Feather-down” filling in the seat and back cushions.

Feathers and down are usually a high-end feature, found only in “top quality” sofas.

But it is also possible to mix just a few feathers into the polyester fill without increasing the manufacturing cost of the sofas.

There are no standards that require a minimum percentage of down or feathers.

The Article website includes “feathers” on the Materials list for the Sven sofa, but does not include “down.”

A small amount of feathers or down would have no effect on the durability, comfort or cost of the cushions.

The most commonly cited “complaint” in customer reviews is that the back cushions “collapse” after a short time, losing their shape and comfort.

Loose, non-reversible seat and back cushions.

Sofa costs are reduced by at least $100 by using leather on one side only.

Other significant construction details:

The seats are tufted.

The leather has “depressions” at regular intervals where it is sewn (tufted) to the cushioning material.

Tufting is a weak point. The thread holding the tufting in place can break, but I have seen no reviews stating that this is a problem. 

The legs have an 8″ height.

Once legs get above 6″ they lose stability and are more likely to break, especially thin legs.

Sofas with high, thin legs often add a 5th leg for added stability.

I have seen no complaints or problems about this on current posted reviews.

The overall weight of this sofa is 116 lbs.

A high end 88″ leather sofa typically weighs at least 50 lbs. more.

Complimentary YouTube video review of the Article Sven sofa.

Another complimentary YouTube video is shown below.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Consultant

Jeff Frank is a 45 year  furniture industry veteran. He created this blog to provide detailed facts, inside information & advice for furniture shoppers. 

 

 

 

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