The EJ 450 Delphi Sofa is one of those furniture pieces that immediately catches the eye. It’s sleek while maintaining presence; it looks modern but also comfortable.
The temptation to install it in your living room is compelling. Until, that is, you take a look at the price tag. The Delphi will run you a minimum of 32,000 DKK (€4,300 or $4700) and can go up to 68,000 DKK. The price differences depend on the model (E10, 11 & 12) and the upholstery material, leather being the most expensive.
It would be easy to say that the reason it’s expensive is simply because it’s a design item. Pretty and sleek = wads of cash, right? But the truth is less elitist than that.
We’re going to break down for you exactly why that sofa is so expensive:
Okay, so design definitely plays a role. But that’s not just because of the outcome of design (as in, the aesthetic), it’s the whole process. You can be sure that designer Hannes Wettstein didn’t just draw this on a napkin one day. Wettstein was a Swiss industrial designer who went on to design furniture as well as larger design projects like the interior of the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC. The studio he founded in 1991, Studio Hannes Wettstein, lives on today. He apprenticed for years before working on his own and is considered one of Switzerland’s most important modern designers. All of which is to say, his experience, expertise and years of training are all part of the price tag.
Of course it makes sense that the sofa would become more expensive the more luxurious the materials become. It’s worthwhile noting that we’re starting out from a pretty high-cost place, particularly when it comes to leather. The leather selection process is so exacting as to be almost impossible. In fact, the selectors were recently asked to lower their standards – a sunspot, freckle or wrinkle had previously deemed the leather unusable. We got to watch the painstaking process by which the workers smooth the leather and it is physically arduous as well as requiring a high-level of knowledge about leather quality.
Fear not, haters of waste; all unused leather is donated to a nearby design school, where students use it for their projects.
Hand-crafted & skilled workers
The design is in place and the material has been chosen; what next? That lies in the hands of a series of incredibly-skilled workers who have spent years studying and perfecting their various crafts. Each sofa is not made by one person; rather it’s an assembly line-type system in which each part is done by an expert.
Even actions you may not realise are happening – for instance, molding the foam before it is upholstered – are actually done one by one by a technician or skilled worker.
In Denmark, labor doesn’t come cheap and skilled labor even less so. That’s a very good thing. Remember when you’re sitting on a Delphi Sofa that a team put it together by hand. And getting to see that in person was very cool; it really boosted our confidence in the value of these design items and showcased the pride with which each item is created.
Supply & Demand
You know this one from Econ 101. Because of the way these sofas are made, a limited number of them are made per year. As they’re internationally sought-after, the result is a low supply and a high demand, pushing the price up.
As with most items, the higher the quality of material and craftsmanship, the longer the product will last. These sofas are not made to last for a few years; we’re talking about a few decades at an absolute minimum. Buying a Delphi Sofa is a huge investment but its an investment that will continue to pay off.
They age well, particularly the leather editions, so though the value does go down once you’ve bought it, the sofa continues to retain value for many years to come if maintained well.
In the end, is it worth it? Most people can’t easily afford a sofa like this. For most of us it’s not even on our radar as possible. If you’re looking for a piece that will last for a lifetime and you can afford it (or you’re willing to save for a number of years – which is a great idea!), this is a great way to spend your money.
The sofa is functional as well as beautiful, so you get to see your investment in action day-after-day. The design is classic and will never go out of style; it’s streamlined enough to fit with any number of interior design styles.
Verdict: we can’t tell you how to spend your money. But if you choose to go this route, you should feel that it’s money well-spent.
Find out more about Erik Jørgensen
Header image: Erik Jørgensen
All other images: Freya McOmish