A day behind-the-scenes at the DFS design studio.


This year DFS, the UK’s leading sofas retailer is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

That’s five whole decades of designing, hand making, selling, delivering and caring for sofas. Each one is handmade to order, the majority of them right here in the UK in one of their three factories located in Derbyshire & Yorkshire.


As part of these half centenary celebrations, DFS very kindly invited myself and three fellow interior enthusiasts along to their Bridge Mills Design Studio in Long Eaton. There we learnt about the whole creative design process, from initial inspiration all the way through to final product designs. Then, most excitingly of all, we were each given the opportunity to choose and help upholster our own chair.

Our day began with coffee and cake and a brief introduction to two members of DFS’ design team. We were then shown around the studios where they explained how initial design ideas end up as products available for purchase.

The design process begins with inspiration gathered around the world from international design fairs and fabric shows. Then armed with the knowledge of upcoming interior trends, the team of dedicated DFS designers set to work developing their new ranges.

From initial inspiration to the final production

From initial inspiration to the final production


Back at the studio the team start with simple sketches, then layer in fabrics and colours in photoshop. The frame designs are created on the computer and weekly design meetings are held with the merchandising team. Much focus is put on the marriage of the aesthetics and practicality of each piece of furniture before the prototypes are then made in the dedicated factory at Bridge Mills. Skilled DFS craftsmen and women know exactly what it takes to make great sofas that deliver on quality and comfort. Rigorous testing ensues and a great deal of tweaking before the final designs become available to order.

With great attention to detail its easy to spot small features that have filtered down from the high end international furniture fairs though to the affordable collections available at DFS. They have exclusive partnerships with brands including French Connection,Joules, House Beautiful & Country Living with collections that echo each individual brands distinct style and are available exclusively from DFS.

Back to my day….After a tour of the factory and a demonstration of how the wooden frames are built it was our turn to have a go at upholstering a chair.

I had opted for the Peace Accent chair in mustard yellow velvet. I thought with its mid-century vibes it would fit seamlessly into my interior.

My upholstery guide for the afternoon was Kyle, a very patient and talented young man who had come through the DFS apprenticeship program. I later discovered that both he and his twin brother had whole heartedly been encouraged to learn the craft of upholstery by their father, an upholsterer before them.

Kyle worked speedily and with great precision showing off his incredible skills and letting me get involved with some essential stapling, hammering & piping!

The end result….


…..a simply stunning armchair which, as I anticipated, has fit in perfectly, here, at The Patterned Palace!

This post is part of a paid collaboration with DFS. All opinions are my own.