By far the majority of chairs and armchairs made by Durlet are made of leather. Durlet works together with the best-regarded tanneries in Europe. By a very specialised process hides are turned into durable and quality leather.
Natural product with character
Leather is a natural product. Every piece of leather has its own living grain and colour nuances. Natural characteristics such as neck folds, small closed flaws, open pores, dung stains, insect bites, stretch marks or a ridge line can be discernible. It is precisely these elements which give each leather its individual character, its warm and living patina and its natural beauty. Exactly for that reason, Durlet works only with such leathers. Slight but visible identifiable marks on the processed leather are proof that it is natural, rich leather. Very uniform leather is all too often artificially treated. That causes it to lose character and often also quality.
Elastic hides from the Alps
The origin of the animals determines the quality of the leather. Durlet primarily uses hides from cattle from the Alps for its seating. Mountain areas have less barbed wire and fewer insects: thus the risk of flaws is lessened. Durlet buys hides of bulls and oxen. They don’t calve and are slaughtered at a younger age. As a result, their hides are less stretched and remain more elastic. Bulls and oxen are also larger than cows. Consequently, Durlet can cut larger pieces from one hide, which makes your chair more stylish and luxurious.
Only the upper layer
After hair removal and defatting of the hides, they are split into a top grain and a split layer. Only the strong, elastic full-grain layer – the upper layer – meets Durlet’s quality requirements. The split- or underlayer is used more for the soles of shoes or cheaper furniture. The full-grain layer is tanned, a processing with preservatives. From the tanned hides, Durlet then makes a strict selection: only the best hides are considered.
Homogeneous colouring throughout
A thorough immersion in dye is the next step. The pigments penetrate the fibres transversely, which retains the natural warmth and suppleness of the leather. Durlet makes up its own pigments. To be sure of homogeneous colouring, hides for the same piece of furniture or three-piece suite will always be taken from the same dye lot.
Aniline leather: out and out natural
Leather which needs no further treatment – apart from drying and walking, to make it supple again after drying – is called pure aniline leather. It is pure, out and out natural, but exceptionally delicate. It is leather for “the expert” who prefers signs of use and patina over undeveloped or less developed leather. To avoid premature fading, scratches or marks, Durlet treats its aniline leather marketed under the name Durlet Elite with a double layer of wax. Its aniline leather marketed under the name Durlet Velluto has also received a protective layer which is very thin, leaving all pores open.
Semi-aniline leather: extra protection
Semi-aniline leather does receive further treatment. It gets a finishing layer: that protects the leather but leaves the natural characteristics visible. Semi-aniline leather is marketed as Durlet Basis, Durlet Chamo and Durlet Polo.
Embossed semi-aniline leather: fewer marks
Semi-aniline leather can also be lightly embossed using a relief plate: that makes marks and flaws less visible. The embossing is done very painstakingly so as not to damage the delicate top grain: the leather retains its strength and natural appearance. Embossed semi-aniline leather is marketed as Durlet Royal and Durlet Nappa.
Other types of leather: not good enough for Durlet
In the case of rectified semi-aniline leather, unevennesses in the leather – and sometimes the whole full-grain layer – are buffed away. Afterwards it is “rectified” by printing the grain of the leather back onto the hide using printing plates or rollers. That gives the leather a more uniform appearance but it conceals naturally weak spots, which is pernicious for the quality of the furniture. After rectification, different layers of dye are needed to give the leather a normal appearance again. It is precisely these many layers of dye which, after a time, begin to “crackle”. It is a Durlet standard not to work with buffed leather.
Pigmented leather is not vat dyed but sprayed with pigment after tanning. That greatly reduces the quality of the leather. Durlet chooses only vat dyed full-grain leather.