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What's so good about norms and certificates?

It’s been 120 years since the founders of the Committee for Mechanical Standardization made the first step towards unification. All those who happened to travel abroad without a special socket adapter know what it  means.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when industry developed dynamically and the demand for goods increased rapidly, there was a sudden need to standardize the parameters of all the products that were on sale. Production processes became increasingly specialised and commodity markets were flourishing, so it was obvious that technical barriers must be eliminated as an obstacle blocking the free trade. Standardization was an answer to most of the questions - not only did it facilitate mass production, but it also made cooperation between individual manufacturers much easier.

Norms - safety and order

Introducing uniform norms was important not only for the manufacturers, but also for the consumers, who needed comfort and safety.

What would the world be without any standardization? Each company would manufacture a different type of socket, so household appliances would have to come with a variety of plugs. No international norms means we could never be sure whether spare parts purchased abroad would be compatible with our devices or whether food products are safe to eat. We couldn’t compare the parameters of different materials, because the manufacturer’s descriptions would be worlds apart.

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Guarding the quality standards

Fortunately, in 1901 the first normalization body was established. Similar organizations were soon set up in Europe and the United States. 25 years later the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations was established, which ensures a better information flow between the authorities responsible for quality standards.

Unfortunately, World War II interrupts the operations of the Federation and puts a halt to the advancing standardization process. The process is back in 1947, when a global organisation known as ISO is established. It has been active since then, setting and monitoring global quality  standards.

At the moment, ISO has 160 member states and is an independent and reputable organisation. ISO norms can be approved by the CEN (the European Committee for Standardization). Such standards are labelled as EN ISO. Some of them are optional, but they are an ultimate proof of quality and safety.

Global standardization still has a long way to go. In many countries the process is managed by national bodies, which  adopt their own internal norms rather than those proposed by ISO. That’s why you can still encounter a variety of sockets as you travel abroad.

Standardization is crucial for modern economy, especially if we want to improve the production processes, coordinate actions to protect the environment and human health, and unify communications systems.

Norms for furniture upholsteries

Special labs test whether or not a specific upholstery conforms to the mandatory norms. Such labs need to be certified. Each country in Europe has its own certification centre.

The laboratories and independent and highly specialised. If you want to obtain a certificate for a specific product line, e.g. furniture upholstery, you need to address an external certifying body. If the upholstery conforms to a specific norm, it will be granted the relevant certificate  – but there’s one more condition: the whole production process must be successfully verified. What is important is not only a single product, but the guarantee of consistent high quality.

In the event of the requirements listed for upholsteries, such as resistance to abrasion, pilling light and friction, or flammability, it is assumed that it’s enough to obtain a test report. This document proves that a sample conforms to the requirements listed for a relevant norm.

Safe for health and environment

Our upholsteries are certified for all the parameters listed in the data sheet, plus they have some special certificates such as EU ECOLABEL or OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

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EU ECOLABEL means the fabric has been designed in line with environment-friendly criteria defined by the European Commission. What does it mean? At every stage of the its life, the product has minimum impact on the natural environment: from obtaining raw materials, through the production process, packaging, transport, to disposal.

Comfort and aesthetic aspect can be readily assessed. The same cannot be said of the covert aspects, which are invisible to human eye, but they still affect our health. Sometimes two upholsteries may look identical, but they differ in certain important features.

Safety is guaranteed by a top-notch international norm known as OEKO-TEX Standard 100. It is assigned to textile materials which do not contain any of the listed 100 toxic substances (e.g. pesticides, harmful dyes, allergens etc.), and are odour-resistant. OEKO-TEX is a guarantee that a certified upholstery will not affect your health adversely when in contact with your skin.

That’s why it’s good to ask questions and read the data sheet to the end. The information included therein may help you make the right choice. A few short names usually tell a long story of high quality standards. Learn more about our upholsteries here.

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