Sitting in a cheap office chair the first time feels about the same as sitting in an expensive one. It?s comfortable, solid. The question is how will it feel on the ten thousandth sitting? Will that cheap assemblage of plastic, foam, and vinyl even last for ten thousand landings, and what will it look like if it does? Quality office furniture should last for years in a demanding environment without losing its functionality or design. So the buyer?s job is finding the best quality.
Name brands can be deceiving, because some of the best-known companies make inexpensive office furniture, sold at big-box stores and designed for home offices. It may take a little digging, but highly respected furniture makers are out there, specializing in products for the workplace. Even if these companies are not well known, there are ways to spot them:
Lumber is divided into dozens of different grades, with furniture varieties at the top. The best hardwoods offer durability and beauty, plus the potential for a well-kept piece to hold or increase its value. Even chipboard and veneers come in different grades with different life expectancies, and metal furniture is not all built the same way either. A bunch of metal tubes screwed together is not the same as solid rails with good welds, although both may be equally shiny. Leather comes in a myriad of different grades, too, but investing in top-grain leather is always worth the cost in durability and lasting impressions. The finish is a place where some manufacturers scrimp, and the finish takes most of the abuse in the office. So the savvy buyer should always go for the best available veneers, stains, and coatings. Simply put, cheap furniture is made from cheap materials.
Fine craftsmanship is not some nebulous concept. It?s as simple as using the correct upholstery nails instead of a staple gun, or tongue-on-groove construction instead of pegs and nails. Pride in workmanship is the main criteria, not merely high cost, and good construction can often redeem mediocre materials. When buying office furniture, inspect inside the drawers and under and behind the unit – places not visible to a casual glance – to find the telltale signs of shoddy workmanship. Even if the buyer can?t afford the best, he should learn to spot the worst.
Design and Functionality
Office supply stores usually offer bland furniture designed for the lowest common denominator and budget. That?s why it?s important to look beyond those outlets to find office furniture with style and innovation. Progressive manufacturers and vendors keep up with changes in office equipment and new discoveries in ergonomics, and they offer a wide variety of styles. A firm that offers creative designs probably goes the extra mile in materials and craftsmanship too.