Fabric Samples
Marnie on a Maker&Son Selenite 100% Linen Song Sofa with Scatter Cushions.

The materials we choose: Feathers & Down

Few things are more relaxing than plunging into a pile of feather and down cushions, or a lovely duvet, and this is the feeling we wanted to share with you when sinking into our furniture.

As a business, we hope that Maker&Son are known for creating extraordinarily comfortable furniture that is designed and built to last. Often, the physical comfort experienced when sinking into our furniture can enable the individuals to also experience a level of mental comfort - a peaceful mindfulness that they may otherwise find difficult to access. This element of comfort is further enhanced by the fact that our furniture is made with natural materials, in a sustainable way, by highly-skilled people who love what they do.

We are deeply respectful of the environment and all the resources we use to create the products that we do. This respect extends, of course, to our choice of fillings that help to make our furniture. We hope that our decisions and our methods help to both change our industry, but also to educate our customers about sustainable choices today.

When it comes to the feathers and down we choose, we consider ethical sourcing and animal welfare as a fundamental concern and priority. Here is a little overview about these very special materials, including why we choose them, the benefits they provide, where they come from and how they differ and compliment each other.

Role & Benefits of Feathers and Down

Apart from absolute comfort, one of the main benefits of feathers and down is its natural breathability. When you combine the two together, they make an extraordinarily high quality, unique natural product that also insulates and transports moisture with an exceptional low weight. They have an exceptional expansion capacity, so can be evenly distributed or applied to fill a space entirely with very small amounts. This provides excellent thermal insulation, with really minimal weight.

Origin of our products

Our feathers and down are organic by-products of the agro-food industry. They are both recycled as well as ennobled for the needs of home and apparel. Not a single duck or goose is ever reared, kept or raised solely for its feathers.

The Down & Feathers processing companies that we work with collect this ‘waste’ from industrial slaughterhouses and process it according to EN standards (European Standards, which are amongst, if not the most strict in the world.)

Natural & Environmentally-friendly

Being entirely natural, feathers and down are one of the most organic and sustainable filling materials available. Both materials are completely biodegradable, so a conservative renewable resource that is environmentally recyclable, since they naturally decompose in the form of organic fertiliser when going back to the earth. They are also naturally renewable, whereas synthetic materials tend to rely on non-renewable resources such as oil. Since feathers and down are a by-product of the food industry, no resources are going to waste, and no byproducts are going to landfill. They also considerably reduce the energy requirements necessary for heating homes and buildings.

Furthermore, the manufacturing process requires a far lower carbon footprint (approximately 17x less carbon dioxide) than other synthetic materials that support us or keep us warm. If you are interested in further information on the life cycle or sustainability of down, the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB) has commissioned a study comparing down to polyester. The study is called “Long Trail Sustainability” and assesses the impact of these two materials in relation to human health, ecosystems, resources, cumulative energy demand and climate change. One of the key findings was that natural down has 18 times less of an impact on climate change than polyester fill. The study is really worth a read for those who like to know more about sustainability in its broadest sense.

Difference between down & feathers

Often experienced in harmony, down and feathers are really quite different. The main difference lies in their structure, since feather is quite uniform and has a distinct quill, whereas down fibres tend to cluster together in thousands, in a very undefined way. Down fibers are not aligned nor connected, and even though down may have a quill, it is very small or undetectable.

Down is actually the fluffy light coating under the feathers of waterfowl (goose and duck), protecting them from the environment and elements. It is the most efficient natural insulator, keeping their bellies warm. Feathers come from the plumage of waterfowl, and they contain quills which provide both insulation as well as support and structure. Waterfowl are abundant in the population, yet the amount of down that the animal holds is less plentiful and so it tends to be more expensive than feather and therefore often used in combination.