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Pirelli webbing widths?

- 03 Feb 2018 -
4 posts / 0 new

Hi all,

I have two unrelated identification questions for you, hoping you can help.

I recently picked up a craigslist special teak frame sofa, haven't identified the designer yet but bears a strong resemblance to classic Jalk sofas.

I feel like I'm going crazy but the webbing on the seats seems to be noticeably narrower than regular Pirelli webbing. I've replaced webbing before and I know that it can shrink somewhat as it ages, but, to my eyes, even the webbing slots look narrower than normal.

Am I crazy? Were alternative webbing widths ever used in this era?

Pictures to follow, just wanted to see if anyone had encountered anything similar.

Second question - is the colour of teak correlated in any way with the era of production? I am still relatively new to dealing in these pieces but it seems that (beyond the issue of finish) the really lovely dark red-hued teak that I've grown obsessed with tends to be more commonly found in 50s'60s stuff, whereas lighter teak seems more common in 70's stuff onward. My entirely unsubstantiated but seemingly logical theory is that craftsmen working in the 50s-60s had access to much older (and, possibly darker?) teak trees, whereas, due to massive depletion in supply, subsequent craftsmen mainly had to use younger teak that may have been lighter. Thoughts?

Thanks as always, this forum has been immensely helpful.

Thanks in advance.

1960 - 1969


- 03 Feb 2018

Your theory on teak matches my theory on teak, and all the information I have come across supports it. Old growth teak certainly had better coloring and grain variation. I think you are missing one piece to this theory however, oxidation. The older the teak, the longer it has had to react with oxygen, which I also believe has an effect on its color. Not sure which has more effect the tree it was logged from, or the length of time exposed to oxygen, I suspect the former.

I have seen wider Pirelli, but never narrower. But this is purely my experience. Note, there was also Rotex, which was DAnish, but I think this was largely the same width as Pirelli.

We need Spanky to weigh in, she has more upholstery experience with Danish chairs than anyone I have ever come across.

- 03 Feb 2018

There are different varieties of teak trees, too, and it stands to reason that newer furniture is made from something other than the true teak genus. Leif will probably know. You can look at a zillion samples on

Also, check out afrormesia which I can't tell from teak without looking up the differences every time, and even then sometimes not. And yes, oxidation.

As for webbing, I have seen narrower Pirelli webbing a few times. I always thought it looked like it had been hand cut since the widths weren't perfectly uniform. There's no reason why you couldn't cut new Pirelli to fit the slots (I've also seen it trimmed at the ends by hand, unevenly, to fit into narrower metal brackets). Use a new Xacto blade and metal straight edge and be prepared to switch blades as needed. Rubber dulls blades quickly. Very sharp scissors are ok too if you don't mind it looking hand cut. (Note to anyone wondering about woven elastic webbing: no, you can't trim the width down on this stuff. It will fray.)

There is a Grete Jalk chair (or at least that's what I thought it was when I worked on it) that had narrower extruded vinyl straps originally, done in a zig-zag pattern. There is one extra slot on the back rail. The slots were closer to 1" wide. Someone had cut jute webbing down and it was frayed and sagging. I couldn't find narrower elastic webbing anywhere so I used heavy cotton webbing and stretched it very tightly. It never occurred to me at the time to cut Pirelli down to size! Duh...

- 03 Feb 2018

Thank you both, extremely h
elpful. Would love to have your help actually IDing the sofa in question, will post pics later today.

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