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The Leather Process

Cierre, born in the 1970’s in Italy, by now, is synonymous to high quality work with leather. Our most used material and our way of living, leather is what we know and what we are skilled at.

Our story is an ancient one, of the kind that links us to the artisan tradition in the field of upholstered leather furniture of the Italy of the past when modern, synthetic materials were not available to us. Leather is what we had, and it’s what we’ve worked with for more than 40 years. We want to share with you the process of how we choose the leather we work with so you can understand the attention to detail and utmost care and pride we have in our work.

A quality piece of leather furniture would be nothing without quality leather, and that’s what we are going to talk about today. High quality leather has characteristics that distinguish it from the lesser quality material, like, for example, its price. But the price is not the only factor that allows us to distinguish the two. Because leather is an expensive raw material that must be laboriously tanned and is subjected to strict quality controls, it’s easy for merchants to just raise the prices and pretend lower grade leathers are top notch. In our case you’ll find we only use  full-grain leathers, the highest quality leather there is.

Leather is a more refined and expensive material than fabric because it is easier to maintain over time. In fact, all our pieces are delivered with our customized Clean Kit that will make cleaning and taking care of your sofa simple and effective.

Processing

We treat leather in the traditional way, making sure our environmental impact stays low. As you may already now, leather is made from the skin of an animal, in our case, usually skin of a cow. It’s important to remember that cow hides are a by-product of the meat industry – no animal was killed for its skin.  The first step to ensure that the leather we receive is good is to make sure the cows that it comes from have been treated well and were in good condition, as the aspect of the leather will be greatly affected by things like dehydration, insect bites and weather conditions.

The quality of each product is ensured through our internal controls, which are carried out with the utmost care. The leather we use at Cierre undergoes treatment and is strictly controlled to ensure its value. It’s a 14-step cancel 14 steps process that starts with none other than choosing the right leather.

  1. Choice
    Our choice begins from the raw material. As we have mentioned before, we evaluate the leather we buy to make sure it’s in the best condition. At Cierre, we only use full grain leather to produce our pieces.This type of layer comes from the top layer of the hide. It’s a very tough leather, and considered the highest quality leather, thus the most expensive. It’s not easy to work with this type of leather, as it absorbs oils and can develop a patina over time, which is exactly what makes it so popular.
  2. Soaking
    Once the initial salting phase is concluded, the leather is immersed in drums to make it regain some of the water it has lost.
  3. Limepit
    In this phase, the leather is “laid bare”, since hair is removed.
  4. Fleshing
    The excess subcutaneous adipose residue is removed from the skin through a mechanical process.
  5. Splitting
    The derma is separated into several layers and the top one, the only one with full-grain potential, is preserved.
  6. Tanning
    In order to provide chemical and biological stability, the organic decomposition of the hides is stopped.
  7. Shaving
    Using a cylinder machine with helical blades, the thickness of the hides is leveled as necessary.
  8. Penetration dyeing for leather in aniline and semi-aniline.
    The aniline and semi-aniline hides are dyed evenly, using organic dyes.

    • Aniline
      Aniline leather used for furniture is dyed inside a special drum. The translucent quality of the dye allows the grain to show through, but it can also show imperfections, therefore only the best quality hides are used for this process. When leather is saturated with dye in the aniline process, the texture becomes a lot softer to the touch.
    • Semi-Aniline
      Semi-aniline (also called protected aniline) leather is also dyed in a vat and has a small amount of coating applied, giving it slightly better protection against stains and fading than aniline leather.
  9. Drying
    Laid out on preheated plates, the leather is deprived of any excess humidity.
  10. Staking
    The hides are softened and rehydrated to give the hide a better “hand”.
  11. Hand buffing
    This procedure, used only on Vintage and Piumone Vintage products, adds shine and elegance to leather.
  12. Spraying
    It ensures resistance of leather to rubbing, fading and stains.
  13. Ironing & Pressing
    It is a useful procedure to ensure full-grain consistency of leather.
  14. Measuring
    The length of leather is measured electronically.

Once the leather is cut to exact size, it’s upholstered onto the piece of furniture in questions. As you can see, the process is quite complex, but what we want you to know is that it’s a process we’ve been doing for years, with a lot of love, and one that we take quite seriously. Everything is controlled to make sure the product that ends up in your home is of the highest possible quality. Ready to purchase your next full grain leather sofa? Take a look at our catalog and take your pick!

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