When you’re selecting furniture and accessories to decorate your office, fabrics will definitely play a role. From desk chairs or comfortable break room seating to sofas for your reception area, fabric is found throughout most office spaces. Fabric can be comfortable, aesthetically appealing, noise-muffling and, when cared for properly, surprisingly durable and long lasting.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for fabrics for your office.
First Things First: Chose a Fabric that is Safe.
There are many amazing things about fabrics, but one thing that’s not so great about them is that they are flammable. To delay the spread of any fire that may occur, flame-retardant chemicals are added to many consumer products, including office furniture, to reduce the risks of fire.
Unfortunately, as the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) explains in a report called Kicking Toxic Chemicals Out Of The Office An Easy Guide To Going Flame Retardant-Free, many of these chemicals are damaging to human health, contributing to reproductive difficulties, cancer, lower IQ, developmental delays, and obesity. Over time, these chemicals migrate from the products into the air and dust and are inhaled and ingested by anyone in their proximity. Astoundingly, the report notes, flame retardant chemicals have been detected in 97% of all Americans tested and 100% of all infants tested.
Considering the fact that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has concluded that fire-retardant chemicals don’t significantly lower fire risks (and do significantly raise health-related risks), it’s wise to forego flame-retardant fabrics (or, at the very least, conduct some serious research before you buy them.) Look for office furniture manufacturers who offer products without flame retardant chemicals. According to CEH, the following companies have removed toxic flame retardants from all of their products:
- Andreu World
- Arcadia Contract
- David Edward Co.
- Fresh Coast
- Leland Intl.
- Martin Brattrud
- Neutral Posture
- SitOnIt Seating
- 9 to 5 Seating
According to CEH, the following companies have removed toxic flame retardants from some of their products:
- American Seating Co.
- Herman Miller
- OFS Brands
Choose a Fabric that is Appropriate for Office Spaces.
Just as you probably want to avoid fabrics that include harmful chemicals, you probably prefer to avoid fabrics that are prone to becoming stained or damaged. If you’re outfitting a high-traffic lobby or choosing fabric office chairs your employees will sit in every day, avoid light colors that will show wear and tear and opt for darker or neutral colors in heavy-duty, thick, nubby fabrics.
Read more about how incorporating texture is a great way to add some interest into your office design.
If you’re looking for seating for clients and invited guests, you probably don’t have to worry so much about durability and stain resistance. Instead, you can give in to your aesthetic preferences and give more consideration to comfort.
Choose a Fabric that will Stand the Test of Time.
Office furniture is a significant investment. As tempted as you may be to choose fabrics with bold colors or prints, keep in mind that styles change. Orange may be all the rage today, but in five years it may not be.
You can’t go wrong with classics such as black and gray! Last but not least, be careful about cleaning your fabric furnishings. Regular cleaning will help keep your fabrics looking and smelling fresh. Many standard cleaning products will discolor or damage fabrics, so be careful. Better yet, hire a pro.
Here at Houston Installation Services, we provide office furniture installation, office moving and relocation services, and project management. But, you may not know that we also clean office upholstery. We’ve been keeping Houston-area office furniture looking great for 40 years. We can take care of that for your office, too.
Want more information about adding soft seating into your office design? Check out our blog that lays out three things to consider when adding fabric covered office furniture.