Furniture being placed in high-use public spaces is put to the ultimate test in terms of durability. For example, shopping malls host thousands of shoppers every day including people of all ages and sizes. That means furniture in these environments must hold up to the demands of toddlers, teenagers and elderly grandparents that want to take a break from the action!
We design hundreds of unique chairs, sofas, and sectionals every year, but many of them are not appropriate for placement in a shopping mall lobby or other very high-use installation. When it comes to high-use, looks certainly aren’t everything.
Here are six quick considerations to think about as you begin to search for furniture for a high-use public space:
- Textiles are ground zero. This is where the rubber meets the road. Think of how many people flow through your given environment daily and pick a textile that will both stand the test of time and resist (or hide) stains.
- Wood is tricky. We love exposed hardwood frames for the warmth and sophistication they bring to a space, but wood should be used carefully in high-use environments. If you specify furniture that features wood, you will need to educate your client on the realities of nicks and scratches (and find a local furniture medic or repair professional who can make small repairs over time). You can also consider a metal leg or base.
- Be careful with welts. Welts on seat cushions and arm rests show wear quickly in high-use environments (if you’ve specified a vinyl or similar fabric, sometimes you can get away with it!). If you’ve fallen in love with a furniture design that features welts at all seams, consider asking for a no-welt version of the same design, or remove the welts from certain areas of the design.
- Firm foam is your friend. Firm, high-density foam will not only last longer and maintain its shape better than softer foams, but it will also make it easier for those with limited mobility to use your furniture.
- People steal the darndest things. Our cushions are so beautiful and well-made, that occasionally, someone decides they must have them for themselves! In shopping malls, we always include a fastener on the back of loose seat cushions to deter theft, but be careful about specifying loose back pillows or accent pillows.
- Consider your cleaning crew. High-use areas like shopping malls are often cleaned several times a day. How easy will it be for the cleaning crew to vacuum or mop underneath the chair you specified? Will crumbs collect in the nooks and crannies of that tight-seat chair?
When in doubt, give us a call. We’d be happy to make suggestions or help you weigh the pros and cons of different design elements in the furniture you are considering.