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BENSEN uses American walnut that is intentionally selected for a broad range of wood grain and colour. The grain varies from sections with tight linear grain to planks that are heavily figured; both feature equally in the wood selection for each BENSEN piece. Planks mainly vary in colour from coffee and chocolate brown to blackish-brown tones, but can also include sections of earlywood from the outer parts of a tree containing pale beige and coffee-cream tones. These variations bestow walnut with a rich character that is natural yet luxurious. Walnut is highly prized by furniture makers for its beauty, ease to work with, and dimensional stability. Walnut can change colour over time particularly when exposed to sunlight and other direct light sources. All walnut used by BENSEN is sourced from sustainably managed forests on the East Coast of the United States which are FSC certified.
BENSEN uses solid European white oak sourced from FSC certified forests in Northern and Central Europe. The grain varies from plank to plank, showing tight grain to heavily figured flat-cut sections. The colour tones vary slightly from sandy yellow to a subdued light greyish tone. Once finished, the wood takes on the subtle matte white colour typical of famous Scandinavian furniture, rather than the golden-yellow colour often associated with oak. The colour may change over time when exposed to sunlight and other direct light sources.
Caring for Solid Wood Products
Every care has been taken to stabilize the wood during manufacturing in order to avoid warping and to allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the timber without problems. Larger items such as tables and benches are reinforced with steel bars to help keep them straight. However, solid wood reacts poorly to sudden or extreme changes in room temperature and humidity. To help avoid problems, it is best to keep solid wood items in the most consistent environment possible. A humidifier can help normalize room humidity so the wood does not dry out and crack during winter months. Avoid placing solid wood items near a radiator or in direct sunlight near glass doors or large windows.
Our solid wood pieces are finished with a low-build polyurethane lacquer that sits low on the wood grain to give is a beautiful matte appearance, while protecting the wood from the effects of moisture, spilt liquids, debris, and abrasion. Nonetheless, no finish can fully safeguard against the potential of damage.
Prevention is the best policy to avoid problems:
- Regular cleaning is recommended using a lightly dampened cloth dipped in lukewarm water containing a mild non-solvent based detergent. Wipe off any dirt and debris, and dry with a soft dry cloth.
- Do not use any off-the-shelf cleaning products, such as furniture polish or sheen agents. The solvents in these can remove the finish and irreversibly bleach the wood.
- Do not use any oil or wax to protect the wood. These are unnecessary and incompatible with the lacquer finish we apply in the factory.
- Clean up spills immediately using a damp cloth and then with a dry cloth to minimize the potential of the liquid and debris penetrating the wood.
- If fingerprints or other mildly oily stains remain, try two things; first rub dry baking soda over the fingerprints, gently rubbing it into the wood. Vacuum it off. This should remove most of the stain. If that does not remove it fully, try adding a few drops of lemon juice to lukewarm water and wipe the concerned area with a soft cloth. The mildly acidic water should help break up the oils enough to release them from the grain without removing the finish. Repeat the baking soda exercise afterwards, and then wipe with a cloth again.
- Always use table mats, coasters, and table cloths to protect the surface against scratches. Use heat proof mats when placing hot plates and dishes on table surfaces.
- Removing scratches without removing some of the finish is almost impossible. In some instances it is possible to reduce the appearance of hairline scratches by carefully buffing the surface with a mildly abrasive terry-cloth. However, in most cases it is only possible to remove scratches by sanding the surface with steel wool. This removes the layer of finish containing the scratch. The complete surface should be sanded to blend out any localized dull spots the sanding creates. This should be done with extreme care and will impact the subsequent effectiveness of the remaining finish. (Note, BENSEN does not take any responsibility for touch ups or repairs made by customers).
- Deep scratches that penetrate the wood itself can only be corrected by professional refinishing. This would involve sanding down the whole table top to remove the top layer of finish and wood, then re-spraying with new lacquer.
BENSEN purchases the highest quality wood veneers available from FSC certified sources in America and Italy. These are supplied in small bundles that have been carefully pre-graded and selected based on the consistency of grain and colour. The bundles are then further inspected, sorted, and matched at BENSEN to create the ideal veneer selection for each component of each product.
All veneered products are finished with a clear polyurethane lacquer similar to that used on our solid wood products, only with slightly less build and grain in-fill. This highlights the intricacies of the grain while providing ample protection against moisture ingress and dirt.
As with our solid wood items, prevention is the best policy for avoiding damage:
- Avoid placing veneered items in direct sunlight near glass doors or large windows as this can bleach the finish and underlying veneer. Note, most veneered items will display some degree of fading or colour change over time as all forms of light exposure have an impact.
- Regular cleaning with a damp cloth and mild detergent is recommended to remove the build-up of dust and debris in the open grain structure. Use a non-pilling cloth or foam sponge.
- Mild cleaning products can work well, but avoid the use of products containing solvents as these can damage or remove the lacquer.
- Do not use sheen agents, or apply oil or wax products to veneered surfaces. These are unnecessary and incompatible with the lacquer used.
- Removing scratches from veneered surfaces can only be corrected by professional refinishing. This requires removing the whole top layer of finish and then re-spraying with new lacquer. Deep scratches are usually impossible to rectify.
- BENSEN does not apply stain to any species of veneer. Our Grey Oak is pre-dyed at the supplier and has a consistent colour throughout.
Metal and Glass
BENSEN produces upholstery items using one of 3 different types of construction methods. Each has its own set of advantages and is used in different models as is most appropriate.
1 Wood Frame, with steel reinforcement
Our wood frame construction is our oldest and most common frame construction. Unlike many North American sofa manufacturers that use old fashioned solid wood construction techniques, BENSEN uses a complex system of layered and overlapping plywood sections reinforced along their edges with solid steel bars. Frames are fitted with a flexilator steel and rubber wire seat suspension adopted from the auto industry, which is attached to the frame via small coil springs. This achieves a frame that is incredibly strong, dimensionally precise, and very comfortable. BENSEN sofa frames should easily last 15-20 years with normal daily use.
We use a combination of high-quality Canadian sheeting ply and premium quality Birch plywood. All material is FSC certified. Plywood is superior to solid wood as it is denser and flatter; it will never crack, twist, or warp due to climate or the insertion of screws and hardware. Boards are glued together with non-toxic PVA woodworkers glue, and frames are held together with screws, bolts, and construction staples.
Solid steel bars are cleverly imbedded along the front and side edges of each piece to ensure even the widest frames never sag and avoiding the need for unsightly centre legs. The frame is further reinforced with curved tubular steel braces designed so the seat never bottoms out; these are visible protruding ever-so-slightly from the underside of the frame.
2 Steel Frame, with webbing suspension
Some models utilize a complete steel frame in order to achieve a specific form. This consists of a tubular steel underframe which is visible from the underside of the sofa. This is fitted with commercial grade elasticated upholstery webbing and specialized decking fabric cleverly quilted together using a technique original to BENSEN. The frame is protected with black powder paint. The underframe is then connected to an upper section made of plywood held together with heavy-duty steel brackets. This creates a frame that is not only able to be thinner and stronger than a plywood frame, but also considerably lighter, as well as beautifully detailed.
3 Injection molded cold foam
In order to achieve more sculptural, lighter forms such as the Lotus and Park chairs, BENSEN uses an advanced injection molded foam technique. This involves placing a welded steel frame fitted with elastic webbing inside of a mold and injecting liquid around it. The foam is then left to cool and cure. This not only produces a precise and consistent form, but also superior comfort afforded by the thicker sections of foam and a reduced internal frame. Each piece is then fitted with a beautifully tailored cover and mounted to a metal base.
Foam and Cushions
BENSEN uses various densities and firmnesses of foam to achieve a carefully engineered look and feel. All foams are premium high resiliency (HR) polyurethane which is produced with specially formulated ingredients; these increase the strength and flexibility of internal foam bonds, as well as their elasticity and rebound memory. These foams do not breakdown as quickly as foams used in the majority of upholstery and retain their feel and structure much longer.
All BENSEN cushions are produced at one of the most well-reputed cushion suppliers in Italy. Various seat cushion constructions are used, including layered foam enclosed in a synthetic fibre wrap, cushions featuring internal coil pocket springs, and luxurious combinations of memory foam, feather and fibre wraps. All back cushions contain varying combinations of feather and fibre in order to achieve the specific levels of support and appearance required for individual models. All cushions are enclosed in high thread count down-proof cotton ticking fabric and feature internal baffles and chambers to stop the movement of fill and to maintain their shape.
Note: Only our slipcover material contains flame retardant chemicals in order to meet California TB 117-2013 regulations for the fire safety of upholstery products. Our foam is not treated with any flame-retardant material to also meet the requirements of California TB 117-2013
BENSEN offers a beautiful collection of different fabrics, each available in numerous colourways and luxuriously soft to touch. These are sourced directly from some of the best and oldest fabric producers in Italy and Denmark. Our fabrics are produced almost exclusively with natural fibres (Cotton, Viscose, and Wool in various proportions), that are yarn-dyed before weaving to achieve the most consistent and vivid colours.
The most common method of cleaning is Dry Cleaning. Dry Cleaning should be done at the lowest possible temperature. The dry clean process can apply any mild solvent except trichloroethylene and should not involve any oxidizing agents. After washing, use an iron on the lowest possible setting to remove any wrinkles, or a clothing steamer once the covers are fitted.
Note: It is advised to apply lengths of Velcro strip to the Velcro tabs before Dry Cleaning to avoid the possibility of the Velcro sticking to the fabric during cleaning or drying and subsequently damaging it.
For more involved cleaning, we recommend using a professional upholstery cleaning service only. They generally come on site, clean the covers while still on the sofa using a steam cleaner and specialized detergents, and guarantee the work they do.
BENSEN works with a selection of beautiful open-grain, full aniline and semi-aniline dyed leathers from Sweden (Elmo Leather) and Italy (Acquario). These are characterized by a buttery soft hand which feels natural and unpainted, as well as by the depth of colour achieved in the through-dyeing process. The leathers are put through a gentle correcting process to help normalize the surface, although discrete insect bites, small scars, and graining variations can be visible which adds to the character and subtle patina of the material. All leather material used comes from cows reared on ethically managed free-range farms in Sweden and Brazil specifically intended for leather production, rather than milk and meat production.
Leather is a living material that matures beautifully if treated properly. You should therefore consider the following:
- Never place leather furniture closer than 20-30 cm to a radiator or in direct sunlight.
- Vacuum clean leather often with a soft brush and, when necessary, clean any exposed surfaces, such as armrests and headrests. For stains that are water-soluble, dampen the area and dry using a paper towel.
- If you should get a stain that cannot be removed, never experiment with strong solvents or chemicals. The problem could get worse, needing to be repaired. Instead, seek advice from a professional upholstery cleaning service.
- Water-based leather cleaning and protective products are available at specialty stores which can improve the longevity of leather. Always avoid using solvent based products for cleaning leather.
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