Faux Real

pu leather chair

In today’s world of closed doors and discrete conversations it’s hard to know just what you’re “buying into”—even what you’re biting into! With oil spills and barn-yard slaughter houses, the business ethics of today are tight-lipped and firm-handed. Consumers have to research half a doctoral thesis just to be sure they’re not supporting a major terrorist organization every time they buy animal-themed macaroni and cheese.

It’s hard, to say the least. This recent wave of cynicism throughout the republic of consumerism has caused an awakening, so to speak, as people have begun to take an interest in where their products originate, and what’s inside the box. Responding to this interest a whole new line of goods has been developed. All across America the faux revolution has arrived

At the forefront of these products is faux leather. Imitation leather has been produced in the United States since the 1940’s and is used in many products, including jackets and upholstery, shoes, automobile interiors, toys for children, and airplane wings (although not in the pleather form).  The term faux leather, one of the leading groups of faux fabrics, isn’t as descriptive as one might think. It’s comprised of many different materials, products and processes.

Some materials are long-known chemical compounds, like PVC, which was discovered twice by accident in the 19th century. However, other members of the pleather family are as modern as the DVD! The materials used in fake leather production vary from matte vinyl to 100% polyester products, some that are just a coat of treatment on other fabrics to create a leather-like appearance or texture.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC for short) was the first form of fake leather, created in the 1920’s by replacing hydrogen within vinyl groups with a chloride group. The result was the stronger, more resistant material that manufacturers had been looking for. Shortly thereafter, PVC began to enjoy success as an alternative to metal. However, as a fabric, imitation leather was criticized as “feeling artificial” and being “too sticky” in hot temperatures. In the 1970’s, the DuPont Company micro-engineered a form of artificial leather with pores in it.

Fabric would never be the same again. With these alterations, fake leather became a viable alternative to traditional fabrics, and people began to notice some attractive attributes. For one, it’s not absorbent, which makes for an easy-to-clean, stain-resistant couch covering. It also fades much slower in prolonged sun light and holds its shape much longer than traditional upholstery. Many people today are taking advantage of these features while furnishing their living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.

pu leather fabricsFeatured to the right is a beautiful example of modern faux leather.  This chocolate love seat works well in a modern-classic themed living room, giving an essence of art deco to the neo-sophistic motif. The smooth-textured matte vinyl of the two-seater goes well with the hardwood floors, while the darker color of the imitation leather lends itself fittingly to the heavier hues of the corner table and area rug.

Amore textured fabric would most likely be too busy for this space, but the gentler approach of pleather suits this living room nicely.  Perhaps a dark cherry wood coffee table with matching fake leather trim would finish this room up with distinction. This type of faux leather piece would also work very well in a home-style den, with a full room rug or in a lighter color, with wicker furniture. Whether it’s for a living room or a covered deck, pleather can always add a subtle touch of perfection, turning a house into a home.

The recent surge of popularity in faux fabrics is only the latest chapter in this material’s long and storied history. Its durability in the parlor is just as true on the porch. From Grandpa to grandchildren these pieces will last and give again. Seems to me, there’s nothing fake about that at all.

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