Office furniture

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Office furniture is furniture that is used for office and administrative work, making it possible, simplifying, improving, accelerating and making it more efficient. With their dimensions and adjustment options, they have a considerable influence on ergonomics . In addition to the actual office and administrative tasks, office furniture contributes to the uniform appearance of a company or an authority through its design and its color and surface design .


Office furniture includes:


  • Work tables for a variety of jobs
  • Desks for classic office work (writing, reading, telephoning, PC work, communicating)
  • Typewriter tables for mostly lateral or separate installation of a typewriter with a lower height
  • Computer tables for exclusive computer work, some with separate table tops for screen and keyboard
  • Printer tables for setting up a printer, some with additional shelves for paper feed and paper reception
  • Meeting tables for smaller meetings at the workplace or in separate rooms
  • Conference tables, mostly representative, often individually manufactured for larger or exclusive conferences (possibly with integrated media technology)
  • Standing tables (desks) for standing work
  • Sit-stand tables as a combination of work table (sitting) and high table
  • Height-adjustable (mechanical or electronic) work tables

Drawer container

Drawer containers are used to hold work equipment such as B. writing implements, paper clips , documents, hanging files and card files. For this purpose, they can be individually equipped with drawers of different heights and different drawer guides (slide guide, ball bearing guide, ball bearing telescopic guide). In the uppermost position there is usually a narrow pull-out tray for small items. One differentiates:

  • Substructure containers that are attached to the left and / or right under the desk
  • Roll containers that stand under the desk, but can be moved with the help of rollers
  • Sliding containers that stand under the desk but can be moved with the help of gliders
  • Side containers that are table-high, are equipped with a cover plate, stand next to the desk and also serve to expand the table surface


  • Office chairs , rollable, rotatable, with or without armrests, adjustable in seat height, seat inclination, backrest height, backrest inclination, armrest height
  • Executive chair, rollable, swiveling, with armrests, adjustable in seat height and seat inclination, mostly representative in design and surface material
  • Conference chairs, movable, on glides, with or without armrests, usually not adjustable, stackable
  • Visitor chairs, like conference chairs, but simpler, stackable
  • Special chairs (XXL office chair, 24h office chair)
  • ergonomic office stool
  • Standing and sitting aids
  • Cantilever chair


Filing cabinets, heights usually calculated in folder heights (FH), i.e. 2 FH to 6 FH, to be placed in front of a wall or as a room divider with a rear wall, with different locking forms:

  • Rolling door cabinets with horizontally, previously also vertically, in and out rolling doors, which roll up in a hidden backdrop
  • Sliding door cabinets with mostly two overlapping sliding doors
  • Double door cabinets
  • Open cupboards
  • Counter cabinets with visible rear walls and heights of approx. 120 cm
  • Cloakroom lockers
  • Wall unit systems
  • Showcases
  • Filing columns, round, rotatable with heights of 2–6 folder heights

Other office furniture

  • Receptions
  • Partition wall systems for dividing large office rooms into several smaller rooms, flexible and individual, with different levels of soundproofing and fire protection properties
  • Wall panel systems for cladding raw walls
  • Partition wall systems for dividing rooms and optically and acoustically partitioning off workplaces, 160–240 cm high
  • Plant trays and containers
  • Special furniture for card files
  • Pin boards
  • Archive systems
  • Rotary cabinet systems


  • Attachments for tables
  • Built-in components for cabinets
  • Locking systems


The earliest known furniture, which was built exclusively for office and administrative purposes, was standing desks. Before that, there were no differences between work furniture and living room or dining furniture. Since the work and storage areas of the standing desks were limited, classic tables were created for sitting work. In contrast to living room and dining furniture, these early desks and work tables already had storage options in the form of base cabinets and drawers, sometimes on both sides.

Writing desk in the Middle Ages

With the advent of screen terminals and PCs at the end of the 1960s, there was a need for suitable workplaces for these special activities. With increasing knowledge of human ergonomics , i.e. the correct and health-friendly working posture, desks changed. Table tops could be adjusted in height and inclination or consisted of two individually adjustable halves for the screen and the keyboard. The office chairs have also been adapted. The classic four-legged chair, which was sometimes used up until the 1960s, was replaced by the modern office swivel chair, which was equipped with a backrest that can be adjusted in height and inclination, and which was built on a five-star base.

Chippendale desk
Typical office furniture around 1900

From the 1970s, shape and color design also became increasingly relevant. On the one hand, it was possible to generate a uniform corporate and administrative appearance (English keywords "corporate identity", "corporate image", "corporate design"), on the other hand, both factors have a major influence on job satisfaction, work performance and motivation.

In the 1980s, it was believed that the office of the future would be paperless. It was assumed that all written documents were stored in the computer and could therefore be found and read at any time. This prognosis turned out to be wrong. The screen may also only show a section of the document. So there is no overview. Furthermore, since people believe what they read in black and white more than what they read on a screen, the volume of paper continued to increase. The amount of paper must be processed and archived.


The architecture of office and administration buildings has also always had an influence on the design of the furniture inside. A distinction is still made today between the following offices  :

  • Individual offices
  • Group offices
  • Combined offices
  • Open plan offices
  • Archive rooms
  • Lounge and social rooms
  • Meeting rooms
  • Conference rooms
  • Lounge area

With the advent of open-plan offices in the 1960s, the demands on office furniture also changed. Every workplace should have a certain amount of privacy in an open space. This subdivision could be achieved with partition systems, room-dividing cupboards and clever use of plant tubs.

In the 1990s, more and more call center offices emerged. Telephone calls are mainly accepted and processed at these workstations. Screens and PCs are available to process incoming inquiries, complaints, etc. The volume of paper is limited. For cost and communication reasons, the workplaces are close together, but should be separated for noise protection reasons. For this purpose, partition systems are ideal, which can also be organized with attachable cabinets and shelves.

The planning of office furnishings, the solicitation of offers, the procurement and installation and relocation of office furniture is now often controlled by facility management in large companies.


Up to the 20th century, office furniture was usually made of solid wood, later of veneered or coated chipboard or laminated blockboard. Up until the 1940s, they were also subject to a certain artistic design. Elaborate inlay work in the table tops should underline the status of the user. Today a combination of steel, aluminum and wood is mostly used. The Bauhaus, Dessau also had a considerable influence on office furniture and the design of office buildings, which can still be seen in many places today.

In the 1970s, plastic office furniture began to be manufactured which, in addition to new design possibilities, also satisfied the desire for colorful furniture.

For several years there have been product lines made from pressed paper and cardboard.

Cyclical influences

Office furniture is a long-term capital goods. In contrast to machines, their economic efficiency is not easily measurable because they only have an indirect influence. Therefore, when the economy is declining, savings are often made on investments in offices and administration. When the economy recovers, entrepreneurs like to first invest in machines and systems, and only when business is going well will new investments be started in the office. The average useful life of office furniture is 10–15 years. In 2011, companies in the German furniture industry that produced office and shop furniture achieved a turnover of 3.59 billion euros.


Office furniture is sometimes subject to high loads. As a rule, they are used all day and are often rebuilt or rearranged in order to adapt the office to changing organizational forms. In particular, moving parts such as adjustment mechanisms, drawer guides, roller, sliding and wing doors and their closing mechanisms, as well as the mechanisms of office chairs, must therefore be of high quality in order to withstand these loads for years. As with all products, there are sometimes large differences in quality with office furniture. The decision-making criteria for buying office furniture are diverse. For example:

  • The employee's area of ​​work / activity
  • The document flow
  • Cooperation and communication with other employees
  • The office room
  • The load on the furniture
  • The requirements in terms of appearance
  • The budget available
  • The quality you want
  • The expected useful life
  • The electronic equipment of the workplace (terminal, PC, CAD)

In particular, the electronic equipment of the workplace has had a major influence on the design and equipment of office workplaces and office furniture over the past three decades. After the data entry stations, terminal and PC workstations were quickly introduced. As a result, large amounts of cables had to be stored electronically and safely at the workplace in some cases. In addition, many table systems have vertical and horizontal cable ducts to route the cables from wall or floor connections to the required location on, on or under the table top.

The different heights of table tops, keyboards and screens made individual height and tilt adjustments necessary. This can be done by loosening and tightening screws or using small hand cranks or electrically. The height of the office chair is directly related to table heights.

Ergonomic sitting and working

Sitting for long periods of time or remaining in a comparatively stationary, immobile working posture is harmful in the long run. Cartilage discs, especially in the spine, lose fluid and dry out. This can lead to damage. The same applies to incorrect working postures caused by incorrect sitting and work table or keyboard and screen heights.

For this reason, standards were developed in the 1970s that must be taken into account in the development and design of office furniture.

Individual evidence

  1. Light, functional and resilient furniture made of cardboard and paper  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , rp-online, August 26, 2005@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /