How It's Made! Custom Home Theater Seats
We go inside Fortress Seating for a behind-the-scenes look at how home theater seats are made.
I’ve always wondered about home theater seating: What makes it so different from regular everyday seating? How are they built? What types of materials are used?
I recently stopped by Fortress Seating in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. for an look at the art of designing, constructing and customizing home theaterseats. Every seat at the 25,000-square-foot Fortress warehouse is built from scratch. Integrators send in their specs and the Fortress team creates one-of-a-kind seating.
Gabi Wolper, vice president of sales, walked me through the entire chair-building process. There’s a lot that can affect the quality of a home theater seat. For example, Fortress uses solid wood and metal-to-metal connections to make the seats durable.
This tougher-than-nails approach is part of the company’s lineage. In the 1930s, Fortress built only metal desks and filing cabinets. It wasn’t until 1970 that it added office furniture to its lineup, and later seats for healthcare industry.
“In these environments, the seats were being used 8-12 hours a day,” says Wolper. “So they had to be extremely durable, and when used by dialysis and chemotherapy patients, very comfortable as well.”
Fortress applied many of these same construction techniques to its home theater seats, which it started developing in the 1990s. “However, we softened up them up considerably to look and feel more luxurious in a home setting,” says Wolper. Today, home theater seating is Fortress’ main focus. The filing cabinet business has long been disbanded, and only occasionally will the company fill an order for office furnishings.
The styles and designs of the home theater line run the gamut, from single rows of brightly upholstered seats, each with integrated armrests that flip up to convert the seating into one big couch, to contemporary leather seats with hidden, motorized compartments that reveal a touchpanel (installed later) to operate a home theater system. “Whatever custom touches the client wants, we can make,” says Wolper.
Fortress offers 25 styles of home theater seats and a huge assortment of upholstery. Wolper says it typically takes 10 hours to build one chair, and a typical order includes eight to 10 chairs.