If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

This philosophical argument has solicited responses such as, “Although the tree’s kinetic energy will be partly transferred into vibrations in the air, commonly known as sound waves, sound only occurs when these waves come into contact with a sensitive membrane like one’s ear-drum and then interpreted by a brain as “sound.” Therefore, no sound is created unless it is interpreted by a human or animal.” – Steve Fitzpatrick, London, UK

Or perhaps, this comment from Jack Hill of St Albans, England, “Of course it does. The idea that a member of the human race has to be present at any occurrence for it to be true is quite ludicrous. Sounds are being created all over the world which are never heard by humans and as a final straw there are supersonic sounds which are beyond the range of the human but can be heard by other creatures such as bats.”

To make this quandary more personal – If we are unaware of someone’s suffering, does it exist? Or how about – If an old man who no one else alive has ever heard of dies, has he died? To the world, that existence is non-existent so his death has no effect, in a way of speaking. Does a non-existent life hold meaning?

My answer to these queries is YES! A tree makes a sound when it falls whether I or anyone else is there to hear it… of course someone suffers and exists whether I, regardless of my egocentrism, am aware of it or not. I firmly believe there is much to be said for being true to yourself and making good decisions, helping and respecting the dignity of others, performing your job and daily tasks to the best of your ability whether or not anyone is watching or taking note. You know the adage – dance like no one is watching – to enjoy it and forget the limitations of other’s expectations.

WHAT does this have to do with building furniture? It is the very basis of our company, of our product. Most of what we do – from our 8-way hand-tied seat suspension that we firmly believe is the strongest and best foundation to support you and your family to the decisions that our leather markers make as they encounter each hide of genuine top grain leather – is never seen by anyone. You cannot see inside that seat and you cannot see the scars and uneven leather colorations that are avoided and blended into a beautiful covering, ultimately ending up on our cutting room floor. You cannot see them – and many customers and retailers tell us that it doesn’t even matter what’s inside a leather sofa if it affects the price – but we do it anyway.

It is a matter of philosophical ethics – we build our leather furniture to last for many years if the leather is cared for appropriately. For that reason, we always start with a solid hardwood frame. The bottom is reinforced with extremely strong polyproylene to which 8 gauge steel springs are clenched. These springs are tied in 8 different directions with Ludlow 100% nylon spring-up twine and secured by nails into the hardwood frame. The outermost edge of the springs is secured with an edgewire that surrounds the entire seating system, enlisting the help of neighboring springs to support the weight of the user. “United we stand, divided we fall.” As a final step, we staple steel strapping in a criss-cross method under each row of springs as extra insurance that the polypropylene platform does not tear through the bottom. A layer of needlepunched woven polypropylene fabric, commonly referred to as FLW sheaths the top of our springs. FLW is an insulating fabric which is soft yet durable. Our upholsterer then adds layers of cotton for softness and covers with the final top grain leather seat, combined with denim fabric under the seat cushions.

An 8-way hand-tied seat suspension works together to provide better support under your seat cushions – the left side supports the middle that supports the right. You don’t end up with a sagging pocket under the seat where Grandpa sits to watch Monday night football every week as could occur with a No-Sag or sinuous spring seat. With that construction, every spring is on its own with no help from the others. A sinuous spring seat is cheaper – the labor to install is quicker, it requires a lower skill set, and it allows the manufacturer to use a cheaper grade of lumber to construct their frames. Another popular alternative seat suspension is to use rubber webbing in the seats – again – cheaper, less skilled labor AND materials. The support under the seat cushions is more like a platform. How long do you think this rubber webbing is going to last in comparison to a seat with steel springs offering support? Not sure, but McKinley Leather offers a Ten Year Warranty on our springs and a Lifetime Warranty on our frames. We know that we have built the best foundation for you and your family – we did it and it will serve you well, whether you know all about it or not. We don’t do it because we might “get caught” if we didn’t, we don’t do it because of all the glory and acclaim we get for building furniture this way. We do it because we are proud of our work and know that it’s the right way to craft a piece of furniture for you and your family.

A retail friend says that their customers don’t care how their sofa’s foundation is built as long as it looks good, sits well and fits their budget. I disagree. I think one would care if they knew the difference. Although we would never be so lofty as to compare McKinley’s production standards to the value of human existence as alluded at the beginning of this blog, we still thought you should know the parts of us that cannot be seen. Just in case an eardrum really is required to validate sound. We believe that beauty is only great when matched by what is inside.