UCSB Case Study – New Soft Seating & Repurposed Sofas

In Blog, case study, Lounge, Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse by Morgan Dix


This summer at UC Santa Barbara, we installed 70 premium sofas from our mid century-inspired Boulevard Collection. There were two highlights to this project. First, the timeline was extremely compressed. Second, because we have a local assembly plant in San Diego, we were positioned to reclaim a large volume of furniture from UCSB that was otherwise destined for the landfill.

DCI’s Journey Into Soft Seating

Before we jump into the details about UCSB, here’s a little backstory about how we developed our upholstery division here at DCI.

We built our business over 45 years by crafting solid hardwood case goods for the military and higher education markets. Owning our supply chain from forest to floor and our robust solid wood milling abilities sharpened that focus.

We’ve made soft seating for decades, but in the last five years we’ve devoted increasing attention and resources to more contemporary upholstery design.

And as a vertically integrated company, we have the unique ability to craft custom upholstery furniture because we make our own internal hardwood frames.

Installing Sofas at UCSB

new UCSB sofaThat brings us to our recent installation at UC Santa Barbara.

For many years, UCSB used the same vendors for their soft seating, but they were ready to try a new approach with some fresh designs.

In particular, there was one residence hall complex that was overdue for an upgrade because of fabric durability issues.

After reviewing our catalog, they chose our Boulevard Collection, which we previously installed at UCLA.

One distinctive element of this collection is the round tapered solid wood leg. Unlike most furniture companies, we make the leg with our own lumber stock and turn it with our own lathe.

In contrast, most companies buy this kind of leg. Reducing third party suppliers helps us reduce costs and our carbon footprint.

Working With UCSB’s Compressed Timeline

UCSB residence hallBut there was a catch. UCSB needed to move fast based on a last minute surge in on-campus student registration.

The School needed the furniture immediately. So we expedited the project, which had a much shorter lead time than usual.

Our normal lead time is 90-120 days.

But because the urgency of their need coincided with the availability of our resources and space in the production schedule, we could do it.

Here’s the timeline, from initial outreach to installation.

July 13 – UC Outreach
July 16th – DCI Quote
July 19th – UC Purchase Order
September 7 – DCI Delivery #1
September 14 – DCI Delivery #2

When we first quoted the project, we committed to delivering phase two after September 20th when class was already in session and the dorms occupied.

Instead, we produced ahead of schedule and installed phase two before fall opening. This was a win-win for both residents and staff during a particularly challenging time for on-campus housing at UCSB.

Reclaiming Sofas For Disenfranchised Communities

UCSB deliveryOne benefit to our customers of having a local assembly plant is the enhanced flexibility we can offer them.

In this instance, we were delivering case goods to UCSB around the same time that we installed the soft seating.

UCSB needed to dispose of all the old soft seating we were replacing.

Because we had an empty truck available after installing the case goods, we filled it with the old sofas and took them back to our plant.

From there, we found an organization that could refurbish much of the used sofa stock and repurpose it for low-income households.

You can learn more about UC Santa Barbara here.