Our Favorite Contract Furniture Sources Right Now
When selecting furniture for a commercial project, many are familiar with the big brands such as Miller Knoll (the result of the Herman Miller and Knoll merger in 2021), Steelcase, Haworth, or HNI (Hon, Allsteel, etc.). All of these brands manufacture systems furniture, task seating, case goods, and even ancillary products. However, one may not realize how many additional brands compose the ancillary furniture spectrum.
Ancillary furniture includes a variety of informal office furniture and accessories that support multiple postures. This type of furniture can be found in reception areas, meeting spaces, outdoor areas, break areas, and collaboration areas (formal or informal). Some manufacturers even include lighting in their product portfolio. We highlight four companies that have a unique product offerings and have recently been featured on our projects.
OFS is a family-owned contract furniture manufacturer based in Huntingburg, Indiana. They were founded in 1937 as a wood product manufacturer offering primarily wood case goods. As the company has evolved, they have developed a robust portfolio encompassing seating, tables, accessories, and outdoor furniture in addition to case goods. They serve several other sectors other than the workplace through focused brands; Carolina offers healthcare & education furnishings and Bryan Ashley supports the hospitality industry.
Sustainability is extremely important to their organization, dating back to the 1960s when they acted by acquiring and reforesting acres of land that had been devastated by the industry. The company no longer heavily relies on wood materials but is still committed to taking care of our environment and works to reduce its carbon footprint.
At NeoCon 2022 they were awarded the Sustainability Award in the Seating: Stacking category with their Zero chair. The chair has three parts, and they combine with a single screw. The chair is easy to assemble and disassemble in addition to all of the parts and pieces able to be reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.
A popular ancillary chair selection that has been used on recent SHYFT projects includes the Skara chair. The chair has very distinct lines yet provides a supportive, comfortable seat. It invites people to connect with each other yet also can be used independently for focused tasks.
Keilhauer was founded in 1979 by the Keilhauer brothers and is relatively “new” to the contract furniture industry. The company is privately owned and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. Their initial focus was to manufacture quality seating, on time. They have since evolved to include a portfolio that includes multiple seating types and tables to support informal areas, breakout spaces, meeting rooms, and any other place where employees may interact with one another. They are known for responding to the world around them and their furniture is designed in a way to reflect the way humans interact with each other.
They are committed to sustainability and have targeted net-zero use in manufacturing. Their “Planet Keilhauer” program is aimed to achieve closed-loop manufacturing (no waste) and materials are then cycled back into their manufacturing process to minimize the environmental impact. Before creating any product, they evaluate materials, sourcing, and possible lifespan.
They also came home with a sustainability award at NeoCon this year in the Seating: Guest category for their Melete chair. The chair is Scandinavian in design and comes in a variety of plastic, wood, and steel finishes. The basic chair (plastic back and seat, 4-leg steel base) is made of 15% recycled content (a mix of post-consumer and post-industrial).
Hightower is a great resource for ancillary spaces. Their product offering is fun and playful, yet sophisticated. Since their founding in 2003, they have been woman-owned and recently received their Woman-Owned Enterprise certification.
Hightower is a family-founded, women-owned, US-based furniture manufacturer which makes them so unique to the industry. They’re pushing to make strides in gender equality, pay equity, and diversity in recruiting, hiring, and internal career advancement.
Many of their products are stocked locally or manufactured in North Carolina. In addition to their in-house designs, they also partner with leading international brands to bring together a beautiful collection of European and Scandinavian designs. Hightower also has a great BIM library of their products that we utilize for realistic renderings with Revit +Enscape.
A couple of cool products we are loving from them right now:
The Dry shelving system is a sleek, sophisticated way to divide space with furniture instead of walls that will fit any aesthetic. There are lots of options for combining open decorative shelves with enclosed storage as well as planters. Dry gives lots of flexibility for your furnishings set up to change or be modified over time.
Another thing we love about Hightower, their lighting offering. It's not common to be able to source lighting from the same manufacturer as furniture. Did we mention they are the perfect modern, Scandinavian addition to any space?
Urbn Timber was founded in 2016 in Columbus, Ohio by three friends and their dogs, combining their furniture-making and entrepreneurial skills. They craft high-quality, sustainable, hand-made products with local spirit. They are a great source for both residential and commercial spaces, crafting slabs into dining tables, conference tables, countertops, and islands from locally sourced trees, including cherry, ash, hickory, maple, oak, sycamore, and walnut.
Urbn Timber’s process goes from log to table. They work with arborists to strategically source local hardwoods, salvaging trees that have been removed due to storm damage, potential hazard, new construction, disease, or death, and transforms them into a beautiful piece of furniture and history.
Their shop includes both a woodshop and metal shop for crafting their bases and other items. Most of their work is custom, made per your specific needs and design. Their makers are dedicated to each project and guide clients through each step of the process to select the type of wood, design, and stain that best meets each unique project’s needs.
We worked with Urbn Timber and Nocterra to develop the design for Nocterra’s bar at their Powell brewery and tap room.
“We love Tyler and the gang at Urbn Timber. The slabs we got are gorgeous in their authenticity and all the focal points of the space that they are in,” said Jay DeVore, DEV Partners who recently used slabs from Urbn Timber at his luxury vacation rental properties.