What Exactly Is Contract Office Furniture?

In short – it’s the good stuff.

Officially, contract furniture refers to office furniture that is held to higher standards as a result of adhering to stringent testing and certification processes and is sold exclusively through territorial dealerships.

HIGHER STANDARD
Unlike furniture typically found in big box retailers, contract furniture manufacturers must submit their products for testing and certification to two main national testing organizations:
1)  ANSI – American National Standards Institute
2) BIFMA – Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association

These organizations ensure that approved products will support safe, healthy and sustainable environments. The result is greater furniture longevity and durability, increased productivity, and even fewer work-related injuries or accidents.

There are three areas in which contract furniture is a held to a higher standard:

Quality. Contract manufacturers build furniture that lasts. They build furniture that works. When you have hundreds of patients cycling through a lobby, or thousands of passengers cycling through a terminal, durability is a priority. High quality is also reflected in the cleaning and maintenance of the furniture.

Style. Contract furniture is the perfect example of function meeting form. It’s world-class design that is feature-rich and yet aesthetically beautiful. For example Knoll, one of our own contract manufacturers, has more than 30 products in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent Design collection.

Value. Contract manufacturers build-to-order in massive quantities. It is this economy of scale that allows contract dealers to provide reasonable pricing to their clients to meet necessary budgets. Contract manufacturers also stand behind their products with robust warranties that ensure their survival and/or replacement if needed. The benefit of style and durability, coupled with judicious costs, make contract furniture a solid long-term investment.

EXCLUSIVITY
Again, you will not typically find contract furniture in big box retail settings. Most of the prominent contract furniture manufacturers distribute their products through contract furniture dealerships to ensure quality control for delivery and customer service.

Each dealership is approved and then licensed by territory. Territories and exclusivity agreements vary somewhat per manufacturer. For example, while Business Interiors represents hundreds of manufacturers, we hold exclusive licensing rights to sell Knoll and Kimball International in Alabama and NW Florida.

Bottom line? Contract furniture is the better product and the economies of scale make it affordable. Purchasing it through a contract dealer simply brings confidence and assurance that you are going to find the right solution.

How do you view contract furniture?

 

Can Office Furniture Help Increase Your LEED Points?

 

The answer is yes, but green certifications for furniture are becoming more comprehensive and changes are on the horizon for third-party green product certification initiatives according to a recent article in Today’s Facility Manager.

level™, the BIFMA sustainability standard, was launched in June 2009 and is rapidly becoming the industry benchmark for sustainable furniture. [For TFM’s more detailed coverage of the level™ rating program, see the May 2010 article entitled, “Furniture Trends: On The Level” by Tom Readon.]

This certification covers multiple attributes. In addition to supporting healthy indoor air, the furniture company must adhere to responsible corporate and manufacturing practices.

Green product certifications can be a valuable tool for companies focused on reducing their environmental impact and resource use. Sustainably minded customers in search of options can anticipate more improvements in the way products will be labeled green.

For more on how to know if your furniture’s certification is valid, check out the article.