Ellen's Design Challenge - No.4. The real story behind the scenes.

By Karl Champley

The Sexy Sofa - Designed & made in record time!


OK. This was a tough one as we were limited with the upholstery!

My first step was to create a template so Katie and the upholsterers could see the true size and layout of the sofa. I always use the template to note down all of the instructions, material types and color selection so there are NO mistakes.

The angle is also very important. I set up a temporary model angled in various positions for five people of different heights to test comfort levels. Our feedback led to Katie to make the correct choice as she always does :)

The original design was stunning as the inner material was a full circle with acrylic legs to compliment the shape. However, we were limited as the upholsterers had little time to do this and were short on man power! No disrespect to their workmanship, however the lack of manpower and time was hampering our ability to execute the design. I rarely get rattled in a construction/design situation. Discovering our limitations just hours before the frames were due to be picked up gave us an unexpected challenge. I wasn't prepared to accept just ordinary because I needed to advance my designer to the next level! I could see Katie was upset & it was my job to bring that creative smile BACK.

So after a long story cut short, I said to the upholsterers, "what can I do to make this a reality". Their response was, "you can't, you haven't enough time". I replied, "for what"? They said I would have to create four individual pieces to get what we need. So I said fine, I will make that happen "but Karl you only have an hour" I will get it done!

I disassembled & rebuilt all four pieces. I had four individual pieces on the truck with the template in an hour.

Katie was happy and we were back on track & her creative smile reappeared.


Not quite!

The next day we spent preparing the acrylic base. Cutting, sanding, laminating and polishing the acrylic base and stacked arm rests. The arm rests where a combination of different colors all hand cut that complimented the material choice.

Once the fully upholstered sofas arrived the next day we had just an hour to have them ready and staged for judging.

Well, they made the upholstered cushion twice the thickness even though I clearly wrote down the dimensions on the template! Someone in the factory decided to increase the height for comfort not taking our base OR instructions into account. So how much can a Koala bear I say. :) We had just one hour, we had to completely scrap our base, remove our circular acrylic feet & remove the base lining material so I could instal an internal base support, reattach the lining then screw on our four acrylic feet.

It looked good in the end. However it did not look fantastic as it should have if we were able to keep to the original design.


The adjustable arm rest supports were functional and the red tubing set it apart.

The clear torched acrylic feet was a unique touch.


Upholstered all around


Approval from the princess :)


In the space



Showtime & happy to have made it to challenge No. 5