Design Conversations—”Quality Matters” Resources

Our Modern In Denver fall Design Conversations event took took place November 19 at Studio Como. Jonathan Auty opened the topic “Quality Matters” based on his op-ed from the fall issue of MID. Attendees participated in a group conversation to explore his position further and to discuss what makes furniture high quality and how it can become more accessible. We’ve compiled a variety of resources for you to dive in deeper on the topic and encourage you to continue the conversation.



“You Get What You Pay For”
“Analyzing the Couch”
“How to Buy Quality Furniture”
“How To Collect Quality Furniture When You Don’t Have Much Money”
“The Best Investment Furniture”


Geometry of Design
The History of Modern Furniture Design
Design in the USA
Design as Future-Making
Product Design
Furniture Design: An Introduction to Development, Materials and Manufacturing


B&B Italia, Behind the Scenes
TED Talk: 3 Ways Good Design Makes You Happy
The Making of Herman Miller Chairs


Why Do Americans Insist On Buying Cheap Crap Instead Of High Quality Merchandise?
“Buying Quality Furniture Can Save You Money In the Long Run”

Soundbites/Takeaways from the Design Conversations Event

  • Well-designed furniture may be costly, but we can’t afford to not adopt a design perspective.
  • Design can be aspirational—even if something isn’t immediately accessible, the design mindset is at any level.
  • “IKEA is a gateway drug to design.” There’s a huge opportunity to reexamine how we live in our spaces.
  • “Value” can be both a noun and a verb. Adoption of new quality mindset may require a wholesale cultural shift. 
  • Key term = “value.” What does this mean qualitatively? Quantitatively? Can it be defined objectively? 
  • One measure of quality can be personal expression through pastiche of diverse pieces coming together.
  • How does the presence/lack of financing options affect accessibility to quality furniture? Can business scale to match? 
  • How do we define “quality?” Cheap can be expensive.

Questions to Ask When Shopping

  • What is your lifestyle? Consider this when shopping for fabric choices. Do you have kids, cats, dogs? Do you enjoy fluffing pillows or do you prefer a more structured look? 
  • What is the frame made of? This may be important, it may not be, but you can tell a lot about quality by examining the internal construction. 
  • Are there removable covers? This is NOT about cleaning. It is about the longevity of the piece. Quality manufacturers offer replacement covers—the frame will outlast the fabric.
  • Is there a warranty? What happens if something goes wrong? How does the company stand behind their product? 
  • Where is it made? This not only can mean the country in which it is made, but how is it made? Entirely from the manufacturer or is it made for them? 
  • What is your budget? What is the piece for (main room, second bedroom)? This may make a difference in the budget.
  • What is the maintenance? What is the best way to care and keep the item in top shape?

Continue the Conversation

Let’s keep this going! Whether in your office or over dinner, continue talking about quality design. #designconversations

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