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Home > Furniture Designs > Furniture Types
Furniture Types

Desks can be evaluated with a list of questions similar to those for tables, plus questions about storage needs. Does the desk require a file drawer? Surface space for a typewriter? Space for a computer with keyboard and monitor? Desk requirements for office uses can become complex and quite specific, leading to work stations that go beyond a simple desk to become a complete multipurpose working-space unit.

Seating Furniture
Seating furniture presents complex problems that are often not well understood.

  • Seating Comfort
    It is a truism that a chair should be comfortable, but comfort is, in practice, a very variable thing. One can be comfortable seated on a bicycle or tractor seat, on a picnic bench, or even on a rock. A hard stool is ideal for certain intermittent uses, a contoured chaise for others. The problem is further complicated by the reality that human beings vary greatly in size and shape. If shoes were made in one size only to suit all wearers, a great many people would have uncomfortable feet. Yet chairs (with certain exceptions) are produced in one size for all.

  • Seating Types
    Seating products are available that offer a wide variety of special-purpose features, such as rolling, swiveling, tilling or reclining, stacking, folding, and even conversion to other use most often in the familiar convertible that makes up into a bed.

Multiple seating has developed a terminology of its own that can be confusing. Sofa is the generic term; two-seater and three-seater are self-explanatory. Love seat is a charming synonym for two-seater. As most sofas have arms, armless is used to designate the occasional exception. Other terms sometimes used include Chesterfield for an overstuffed sofa with padded arms; Lawson for sofas with arms lower than the back; tuxedo for sofas with arms the same height as the back.

Modular seating refers to the sectionals that appeared in the 1930s and continue to be popular.

These are single units that come armless, with a* single arm at right or at left, and as corner units. Several can be assembled in a variety of ways, including straight or angled sofa-like groupings; they can be rearranged to suit changing needs or locations. The term modular is also used for modern seating systems with a continuous base structure that supports individual seat sections.

Arms, corner units, even end-table elements or planters may be added to/the basic unit to make up groupings uniquely planned for a particular location. Some modular systems use units less than pne seat in width and include tapered units, enabling the formation of curves, circular shapes, and S-shaped groupings. Large modular seating assemblies are particularly useful in public spaces such as lobbies and lounges that call for a large number of seating spaces.

Sleeping FurnitureSleeping Furniture
Furniture for sleeping can range from simple pads placed on the floor through futons and platform beds to elaborate bedsteads with head- and foot boards and auxiliary elements such as bedside stands, lamps, and electronic, controls and gadgets. A mattress on a spring unit, varying in size from a narrow single up to roomy king-size, mounted on a scarcely visible metal base has become a near-standard form of bed.

The platform bed (mattress or mattress and box spring on a box like base) has become a popular alternative. As with seating, comfort and physiological serviceability are complex issues that require research and thought. In general, harder beds are probably better than softer, which can cause or aggravate back problems and simple systems of construction are likely to be more durable than complex inner- and box-spring systems. Such innovative approaches as air-inflated and water-filled beds have not had a very good record of success in continued use. Foam mattresses, on the other hand, which came into wide use with platform beds, continue to be popular.

In spite of the variety of beds available, the differences tarn them are mostly superficial. There is probably less variety of basic design in sleeping furniture than in any other furniture type.

Convertible sofabeds are a widely used solution to the furniture problems presented by a one-room apartment or studio. Seeing that the designers of such furniture must always compromise the needs of the two functions, it is surprising haw well such products, at their best, serve the conflicting needs

They must of course, be evaluated for both uses. Fold-up or Wall beds, once also a popular solution to the space problem, Seem to have been largely displaced by improved convertibles, although they have recently become available in a variety of style and systems. Other types of sleeping furniture include the loft bed, that is, A bed on a raised platform that frees the space beneath it for other use; the bunk bed, particularly adaptable to childrens Rooms; and the trundle bed, which is an extra bed hidden under a larger bed.

Storage FurnitureStorage Furniture
Storage furniture is logically selected to suit the kind and quantity of material to be stored.  Open shelves and various with hinged or sliding doors and arrangements of in many sizes and shapes are available in various combinations to suit specific needs. Storage systems offer standard related components that can be grouped together to suit a particular set of storage needs.

Modern storage systems often incorporate elements to serve there special purposes, such as desk use, the service of food or drinks, or housing for TV and other electronic devices. Storage can also offer possibilities for display, either for ease in locating specific items, as with open bookshelves, or simply to offer protection while making collections of objects of interest or
beauty visible.

Modular or system storage furniture is particularly well suited to making up storage walls and room dividers. The former are assemblies of connected storage components that fit from floor to ceiling, often using a custom-fitted insert at the top. They serve the function of a partition wall while providing storage accessible from one or both sides. A storage wall may separate adjacent living and dining spaces, two territorial areas in shared childrens bedroom, or two adjacent office spaces. Room dividers serve similar uses, but do not extend to the ceiling nor, in most cases, from wall to wall. They divide a large room into two sections while preserving its sense of unity and providing storage at the same time. Dividing living and dining spaces is one of the most common uses of a room divider. The living side can accommodate books, records, TV, and stereo equipment, while the dining side can hold dishes, glassware, silver, and linens.

Contract Design FurnitureContract Design Furniture
Contract design calls for many specialized types of furniture designed to satisfy specific needs. There, are special lines of furniture tailored to the requirements of hospitals and health-care facilities, offices, libraries, hotels and motels, restaurants, theaters and auditoriums, and retail shops, to name a few of those most widely available. Among these, the mostly highly specialized types, such as hospital and laboratory equipment, need only be noted here as areas served by product lines developed to fill such needs.

Other contract furniture products have more varied uses. Theater seats, for example, may also be used in school and college auditoriums and lecture halls. Stacking chairs may be specified for auditoriums, ballrooms, lecture rooms, cafeterias and dining rooms, conference rooms-wherever changing call for closely spaced seating at times and clear space at other times. Restaurants demand special tables, attractive and durable when table tops are left exposed, simple and unobtrusive when tablecloths will virtually conceal whatever is beneath. Banquette seating may be a standard product or may be built to order.

Office furniture has become a very important specialty as office work has become a major part of modern working life. The simple desk and chair continue in wide use, but  systems furniture has come more and more to replace the free-standing in desk with a complex of work surfaces, screen panels, and storage units that serve as partitioning as well .

The work station is supplanting the conventional office room, occupying less space while, at best, providing better function. The typical office workday of long hours spent sitting in a chair has led to the development of ergonomic chairs offering improved comfort and physiological impact through shape, dimension, and adjustments that minimize muscular stress. Conventional file cabinets have been augmented by lateral files (in which the filed material is stored side by side by side instead of front to back) and special equipment for  microfile materials. Computers require special stands and tables for their keyboards, screens, and printers, all of these connected by wires and cables that must be accommodated in suitable furniture units.

Other contract uses require special versions of ordinary home furniture. Motel and hotel furniture, drawer chests, desks, beds, and bedside tables differ from home equivalents only in having more durable surface finishes, heavy-duty mattresses, and sturdy casters on the bed frames to facilitate movement for bed-making. Chairs for restaurant service need to be strong and to have spot-resistant cover fabrics.

Public lounge furniture is similar to living room furniture except that it, too, demands extra sturrdiness and wear-resistant properties. On the other hand, transportation seating (for buses, trains, and airplanes) is of a very special type that must meet exacting performance and safety standards.
The interior designer confronting a specialized contract assignment for the first time will usually need to spend some time visiting special furniture showrooms, talking with salespeople in the field, and collecting a library of current catalogs devoted to suitable furniture products. Some industry manufactures associations have established quality standards that are an aid in evaluating available products. The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI), for example, produces a quality standards manual that defines three levels of quality, designated as economy, custom, and premium, in detailed specifications. Although meant for built-in woodwork, the same (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association) has published similar standards for performance tests to be used by its member firms.

Patio type of FurniturePatio type of Furniture
Patio furniture is popular for homes of all sizes. It comes in every material and style imaginable, but most patio furniture has two characteristics in common: durability and weather-resistance.

If the homes patio is completely outdoors, without a cover or awning, the homeowner will probably favor all-plastic and treated metal furniture. These varieties of patio furniture are resistant to most kinds of weather, including downpours, hot sunshine, and even snow. On the less expensive end, molded plastic tables and chairs are available everywhere. The chairs are usually stackable for convenience, and they come in a variety of colors and styles.

Patio furniture sets of tubular metal are also popular. These are more expensive than the plastic sets, but also more durable, and the chairs may be cushioned. The tables may have an umbrella in the middle to provide shade. These sets also come in many patterns and styles - some with a frosted tempered glass table. Tubular metal patio furniture is also widely available - even at the supermarket!

Wrought iron patio furniture may be the most familiar. It is also the most expensive. Wrought iron must be kept painted to ensure its weather resistance, so maintenance adds to its expense. Chairs, love seats, tables and more are available in wrought iron. Its main advantage is that it is practically indestructible and will hold people of any size. Some homeowners have hammock stands on their patios, and many have swings or gliders with shades overhead as part of their patio furniture.

For patios with some covering or those that can be completely closed off from the elements, wicker is a popular choice for patio furniture. It is moderately priced, lightweight, sturdy and attractive. It can be used in a natural color, but will also accept spray paint for decorator colors. Seats are usually cushioned, and wicker chairs, love seats and sofas are all available.

Wooden patio furniture may be used outdoors, but is generally preferred for patios with some cover, as well. It has most of the same advantages as wicker, but is a little heavier and more durable. A homeowner considering buying patio furniture should always comparison shop for the best price, taking into account what kind of furniture he wants, where it will be used and by whom. This will help him make the best decision.

Specially Designed FurnitureSpecially Designed Furniture
This can be tailored to suit the precise needs and desires of users and can give an interior a unique visual quality. On the other hand, it involves some element of risk; if the finished product turns out to be unsatisfactory in some way, it may be difficult and expensive to change or replace.

In general, special furniture is likely to be more expensive than standard, available products, not only more expensive to produce but also more expensive in terms of design time. Designing a piece of furniture is a major project that cannot be dealt with in a few minutes or hours. Built-in furniture, almost by definition, is specially designed. Simple shelving presents no problem to the designer, carpenter, or cabinetmaker. More complex cabinetry, such as dressing-room fittings, a room divider, or special kitchen or bathroom cabinets, can range from fairly simple to extremely complex and costly.

The process usually begins with simple sketches, moves to drafted elevations and cross sections, and finally to construction drawings for the shop or cabinetmaker that will build the piece or pieces. Scale models are helpful to the design process; even full-size mock-ups are often made before going ahead with a special design.

Designing seating is very demanding; chairs in particular have gained a reputation as being difficult to design. The challenge they pose may explain why the design of a special chair has come to be regarded as the signature of a master designer. The designing of a chair proceeds as described above, except that a full-size mock-up or prototype that can actually be sat in is almost essential in order to test for comfort, strength, and stability.

Many fine historic interiors are largely furnished with specially designed elements. Adam brothers room, an Art Nouveau interior, a Frank Lloyd Wright house can hardly be separated from the special furniture that they contain. Many designs now in production originated as "specials" for a particular project.

Most of these date from times when fine craft labor was cheaper and more available and budgets more generous than today. The modern tendency is to avoid special furniture design except for simple built-ins or an occasional single piece when no acceptable stock alternative is available.

Economic pressures and clients desire to see a sample before making a decision are probably equal factors in limiting the development of special designs. Specially designed furniture also includes handcrafted furniture by artisans and furniture by artists.

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