Behind the Design: The Essential Sofa

Nov 21, 2023 Annie Cao

The cozy couch that started it all. We interviewed our co-founder, Phantila, on the design process and inspiration behind creating The Essential Sofa.


What was the design process like for the Essential Sofa?

The design was influenced by customer feedback. When we created an Instagram account, we started to build our community and also utilized it as a platform to poll potential customers on their needs and design preferences. For example, we initially thought that the sofa would have slim arms to maximize seating space. However, when we ran a poll asking our community for their preference, the results were overwhelmingly in favor of wide arms. People wanted to be able to rest their laptops, mugs, and arms on their sofa arms.

We incorporated this type of customer feedback into the design process, while also taking into account factors such as sustainable materials, manufacturing practices, affordable shipping, and easy assembly. 



How long did it take to design the sofa from ideation to production?

It took about 2 years from when we first thought of the idea to when we launched. 


What was the thought process behind choosing certain features for the sofa, such as the wide arms or the cushion style? 

The decision around the wide arms was influenced by the Instagram poll I mentioned earlier. As for the cushion style, we wanted to make sure that the sofa didn't look like it came out of a box even though it offered the convenience of flat-pack shipping. Long lines, such as those of the bench cushion, help to create cohesion within the piece and also bring an aesthetic that is more often seen in luxury furniture designs to a more accessible price point. 



How did you pick the colors and fabrics for the Essential Sofa?

We wanted to create a sofa that was beautiful while also being malleable to different aesthetics. That's why ultimately, the sofa design is sleek, has clean lines, and is offered in many different fabric options. This allows customers to bring their own personality to the piece and tailor it to their aesthetic. We offer everything from your basic grays and beiges to brighter tones such as the mustard and seafoam.


Why did you choose Recycled Velvet and Upcycled Poly as fabric choices?

We've been very conscious from the onset about two things:

1. Not using fabrics that are blends of natural and synthetic materials since those two materials have different end-of-life considerations. For example, linen is biodegradable while polyester is not. 

2. Not treating our fabrics with waterproofing or stain-proofing chemical treatments that contain PFOAs, otherwise known as forever chemicals. 

For these reasons, we chose the Recycled Velvet and Upcycled Poly fabrics. The Recycled Velvet is made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles, while the poly fabric is made from 100% upcycled polypropylene. Both of these fabrics are inherently stain-resistant and easily cleanable, and therefore do not utilize any chemical treatments. 

We are actually in the process of developing a line of hemp fabric. We initially launched with a line of 100% cotton fabric, but discontinued that as the production process for cotton can be very water and energy intensive. 



Why did you name it the “Essential” Sofa?

We named the collection the “Essential” collection because we wanted it to encapsulate our intention of creating products that are not superfluous or wasteful, but are valuable to the lives of those who have them. One of the realities of our world is that over consumption is unsustainable, and while we do produce and sell products, we want to make sure that we are intentional and thoughtful about not creating excess waste.


Shop Our Essential Sofa

The Essential Sofa in Recycled Velvet
The Essential Sofa in Recycled Velvet


If you'd like to order our furniture and have any questions, feel free to email us at customer@sabai.design or send us a DM on Instagram @sabai.design.

Comments on this post (2)

  • Hilary Noonan

    Jan 05, 2024

    I’m really allergic to latex. Is there latex in your chairs and couches? I love your idea. I just have to deal with these ridiculous allergies!!

  • Ama

    Nov 28, 2023

    Wow! Your and considerations and thoughtfulness has me SOLD! So refreshing in this age of unconscious consumerism and waste. I had been vacillating about ordering but after reading about your thought process i am ordering and hope to purchase again in the not so distant future. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The difference makes a difference.

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