During this three part series, we are looking at several facets of why entrusting your furniture to an interior designer can have tremendous benefit. This is Part II of our series. Catch up on the selection process from the very beginning by reading Part I.
The durability of furniture should always be considered. When thinking about the durability, the breaking point should never be the only metric by which you assign success or failure. It is important to select products that will withstand their use and have good warranties in case they do break. However, often times, furniture will “ugly out” before it “wears out.” This affects how people perceive a building and will reflect directly on the client. If you walked into a hospital waiting room and the chairs looked dirty, you would perceive that the hospital is not clean. It may just be that they scrub the chairs so well that the finish has come off of the vinyl. It could, in fact, be very clean and you just have the perception that it’s dirty because it’s worn. This is a perfect example of why durable finishes are important. On the contrary, you may perceive that a space is very clean because the fabrics look new and the wood makes you feel like you’re at home. If the correct fabrics were not chosen, they could be harboring bacteria, dust and a whole host of other pathogens. The selections you make are extremely important in any environment and should be considered specifically for how the space is being used.
Warranty scopes and lengths should be carefully considered when selecting furniture. With as much money as you will likely be spending to furnish your building, you want to be sure that if things break, they will be fixed by the manufacturer. There are a few things to remember:
- Know the scope and length of the warranty. Most reputable manufacturers have a readily available, easy to read warranty statement that is very straightforward. If you come across a manufacturer that is reluctant to give you their warranty information, or if the information is vague, it should send up a red flag immediately.
- Check to be sure your furniture is warranted for the type of work being done. Some manufacturers will not warranty a chair that is for 24/7 multiple shift use for as long as they will an 8 hour chair. Also be sure the chair is warranted for the weight of the person who will be using it.
- Check references. When purchasing from a dealer, ask for references for the size project you are planning. When contacting the reference, ask them about any problems they have had with the furniture. If there were problems, ask how they were addressed and how quickly they were addressed.
- Know what you’re getting with used furniture. Used furniture is rarely warranted to a second owner. This may not be an issue as long as you’re getting it at a great price and know that if anything goes wrong, you will be responsible for fixing it. The key to making this work is finding a reliable dealer who is willing to help with repairs when problems arise.
When purchasing furniture for US offices, buy American! American furniture manufacturers have a reputation for making high quality furniture. Typically they must go through much more intensive testing than overseas manufacturers. They are much more likely to offer better warrantees, great service and will be knowledgeable about code requirements in your area. Beware of manufacturers that only assemble their products in the US rather than manufacturing them here. They will often import parts that are low cost but also low quality and then mask them by covering them with fabric or mixing them with other higher quality parts. You want to be sure that all the ‘stuff’ you can’t see is manufactured well. Your designer should be able to help you with sorting out all the details of the furniture you are considering.