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Custom Furniture: Materials and Elements and How to Use 3D Design to Create them

 |  SelfCAD University

Creating Customized Furniture: Everything You Need to Know

Furniture is the most used item in people’s daily life. The genesis of Chinese furniture traces back to the Neolithic age. Furniture is affected by four factors namely material, structure, function and appearance. These four factors depend on each other and also restrict each other. The purpose, design and make of furniture is to meet the people’s demand. Furniture refers more to the table, Sofa, bed, wardrobe and other small or large furniture, which are accessible for indoor use.

The quantity, type, form, function, style and production level of furniture reflects the social lifestyle of a country, the region in a certain historical period, the possession situation at that time, the level of social material civilization and historical and cultural characteristics. Furniture shows the social productivity development level in each region in a certain historical period. It portrays certain cultural forms and also a certain way of life in miniature form, hence furniture can tell of rich and profound social status. Solid wood furniture is a type of medium fibre-board. Any fibre-board that is not stick wood or walnut stick is not made up of pure natural wood.

Constituent elements:

The structure introduces a certain connection between the component and the material used for the furniture. It is divided into external and internal. The internal structure introduces a certain compound of furniture parts, which depends on both material change and development of science and technology.

Additionally, the exterior structure of the furniture is in direct contact with the human body. It is the direct mirroring of exterior modelling, because it is designed according to the size and shape of the human body, hence it is called human body engineering. For example, a chair which has the proper height, thickness, and backside inclination can take out the fatigue sense of humans.


Furniture can be made of different types of material through several technical processes. The material depends on the type of furniture that needs to be made. Hence, furniture is designed to meet the basic requirement of beautiful reach craft besides, uses, function and close connection with the material. The designer must perform the following activity:

  1. Be familiar with the properties, specifications, types and sources of raw materials;
  2. Using existing material to design an outstanding product, i.e. making the best use of everything.
  3. Be satisfied with using all kinds of new materials to improve the quality and beauty of the product. In addition to commonly used plastic, metal, wood, there are rubber, fabric, glass, bamboo, sponge, leather, glass fibre reinforced plastic, etc. However, all types of materials are not used in furniture production. 

While selecting the furniture material, the following factors should be considered:

1. Processing technology: The processing technology of material directly affects the manufacturing of furniture. In the processing process, the woodiness of the material is to be considered and this is affected by moisture and the general expansion and contraction and porosity. The plastic material should be evaluated for thermoplastic deformation and ductility. Glass material should be evaluated for hardness and hot brittleness.

2. Texture and appearance quality: The texture of the material should be good to look at, and the material should be of good quality. Wood is a natural material. Having a beautiful, realistic image, natural texture, colour, good hand feel and being easy to process is what makes good quality furniture material. Plastic and its synthetic materials also have the characteristic of a quality of material.

3. Economy: The economy of furniture material includes the material price, labour price and the utilization rate of materials.

4. Strength: the strength of furniture includes the anti-splitting performance, elastic modulus, and the gripping force.

5. Surface decorative performance: Surface decorative performance includes coating, sculpture, adhesive paste, hot, colour, burning and other decorative feasibility. 

The appearance of the furniture:

The exterior form of a furniture is considered good in appearance if it directly reflects the user. The external structure especially depends on the appearance of the furniture. But, there is no correlation between appearance form and structure, and the different appearance forms indicated by the same structure.


The function of the furniture is classified into 4 respects, namely the use function, technical function, aesthetic function and economical function. A good furniture should maintain its value and have valuable functions in accordance with the development of the economy.

Furniture categories:

1. According to style, furniture can be classified as neoclassical furniture, Korean pastoral furniture, Mediterranean furniture, European classical furniture, Chinese classical furniture, American furniture, new decorative furniture, post-modern furniture, modern furniture, etc.

2. According to the materials used, furniture is classified as metal furniture, board furniture, rattan furniture, jade furniture, soft furniture, plastic furniture, bamboo furniture, solid wood furniture, steel furniture, and other inorganic materials such as fibre, fabric, ceramic, glass, marble, resin, etc.

3. According to the function, furniture is classified as outdoor furniture, study furniture, dining room furniture, living room furniture, bathroom furniture, bedroom furniture, kitchen furniture (equipment), auxiliary furniture, children’s furniture, office furniture, etc.

4. According to structure, furniture is classified as combination furniture, folding furniture, hanging furniture, even wall furniture, etc.

5. The furniture is classified according to the effect of the modelling as artistic furniture and ordinary furniture, plastic chairs and metal wire chairs and tables.

6. According to the grade, furniture can be classified as middle grade, high grade and low grade.

7. According to the use, furniture is classified as outdoor furniture and indoor furniture.

Furniture can serve many different purposes. You can design your furniture according to your needs and you can also try to customize your furniture. Before starting the design, you should do the planning first. Planning should cover what type of furniture you want to design and what purpose it’s going to serve. List out what you want to accomplish with your furniture, draw inspiration from common objects, research currently used furniture designs, make an imageboard online to collect inspiration, then make the model.

1. Determine what type of furniture you want to design: 

Many times we are confused due to lack of space and financial limitations. Consider the problems present in your own house or place of work and find the inspiration for what to design and how to design it. Take a notebook and write down ideas and problems that are arising in your mind.

2. List what you want to accomplish with your furniture: 

Write down all the problems and challenges and try to solve these problems with your furniture. The furniture should be designed in such a way that it can be moved easily and should have a certain shape. Any new ideas regarding furniture should be put in the design process. 

3. Draw inspiration from common objects: 

Look at the different things in nature and around your home or workplace and see how you can transfer them into a furniture design. You can also list that object your eyes catch and sketch small thumbnails of how you would transfer them into furniture.

4. Research current furniture designs to get more ideas: 

See product magazines and design websites that are already available on the market. Take a notebook and note what you like and dislike in the current design so you can easily change that design. Also look at the classic works of furniture design.

5. Make an imageboard online to collect inspiration: 

You can view images and boards on Pinterest or any other place online, save these ideas and inspiration in one place, and split them into different artboards like chairs and couches.

Using 3D Modeling to Create Prototypes of Furniture 

creating custom furniture

3D modeling is one of the great ways that one can use to create prototypes and designs of their furniture. There are various 3D modeling software available that you can use to do this but we recommend using SelfCAD software. 

SelfCAD is an easy to use 3D modeling software that has both downloadable and online versions. You don’t need to have any experience to be able to use this program. It has powerful tools and features that can help you prepare designs of any furniture with much ease. 

3D Designing Furniture

There are various methods that you can use to create your furniture. These includes: 

1. You can sketch your ideas on paper or in a digital drawing program. According to your choice, draw the furniture at different angles, then work on your plans and see what you arrive at. You can start the drawing with pencils and then later solidify the outline with a pen or fine-tip marker. If you are working digitally, you can make the outline thicker and darker by changing the brush size.

  • Open a drawing tablet compatible with your computer and sketch the design digitally.
  • Use a contour line to show the furniture of your room. 

Once you are done with sketching, you can import the sketch into the 3D modeling software then transform the sketch into a 3D design.

You can work on a 3D modelling software to actualize the visualization of your furniture. You can start your drawing from a basic form like a cube or a sphere and then work on it. According to your desire, adjust the form or add more forms for more complex pieces. Once you complete the drawing, you can render the model and see what it would look like in 3D space. 3D modelling improves drawing efficiency and accuracy.

Check out the video below to learn how you can use the drawing tool of SelfCAD to create a table.

3D Modeling plays an important role when it comes to creating prototypes of furniture. Once you’ve visualized the type of furniture you would like to create, you can use a 3D modeling software to prepare it’s prototype. 

After you’ve designed the 3D model, you can then prepare it for slicing before sending it to a 3d printer. 3D slicing will convert the design into a format that is understandable by a 3D printer. 

Creating prototypes through 3D modeling has many advantages. For example, you can make adjustments to the design in case an issue arises without necessarily having to redesign or spend a lot of money. Adjustments can easily be made in the software in case anything wrong arises.


Enjoy powerful modelling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

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