Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Furniture for Your Library

Choosing furniture for your library can be an exciting task, but it can also be a bit daunting. When making an investment in new furniture, you want to make sure you choose pieces that will meet the needs of your library and its users, and you also want to make sure the pieces are going to stand the test of time, not only for wear and tear, but also for style. To help you make informed decisions about the pieces you choose, we’ve put together our top 5 things to consider when selecting the right furniture for your library.

1. Vision & Goals

First, consider the overall vision and goals for your space. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do we want the user experience to be?
  • What do we want the final character of the space to be?
  • What are all the activities we imagine happening here?

Considering these broader questions before choosing your furniture will result in a more cohesive interior space. Once an overall vision has been established, you can then begin selecting furniture based on these additional key categories: Function, Aesthetics, Ergonomics and Durability.

2. Function

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Muzo Kite® Mini Mobile Flip Tables

How does your library furniture need to function? Does it need to be flexible to accommodate many types of activities? Does it need to create spaces within spaces? Library and furniture functionality is transforming every day.

Many libraries are transitioning to flexible spaces, enabling users to move the furniture as needed. Using furniture with mobility, such as shelving with casters or Kite® Tables, is a great way to accomplish this.

There are also many lounge options available with casters, both exposed and concealed. The Hive Lounge System defines spaces within spaces because of the privacy its high backs provide.

Portable screens are another great way to create smaller zones, such as the Cheesewall Mobile Divider.

MUZO Powerball
MUZO Powerball

There is also a growing demand for power needs in every environment. There are many lounge and table products available with integrated power. Alternatively, there are flexible, free-standing power solutions like the Power Ball Charger. Free-standing laptop tables, such as the Penny Table, make another great accessory for lounge areas. When elements are free standing there is added opportunity for fluid, adaptable spaces.

For your teens’ or children’s areas, you may also want to consider furniture with a fun factor. Oi Cellular can be quite engaging since it can be pulled apart and rearranged.

Overall, when selecting furniture, it’s important to understand how the space needs to function, as it will help you to determine how the furniture in the space should perform.

3. Aesthetics

How do you want your library to look? What is the aesthetic style?

You may prefer the traditional style for your new furniture. There are many furniture options available today with traditional aesthetics. This style can be maintained by considering furnishings with symmetry, as well as muted, mid-tone color palettes.

There may be a lot of existing wood shelving and furniture in your space, but that doesn’t mean you are stuck with traditional style. Consider a transitional design style, which combines both traditional and modern pieces.

Tailoring the finish selections of your new furniture can help to blend the styles. Try pairing a woodgrain table surface with a more modern painted leg or adding some splashes of color throughout the space.

On the flip side, a contemporary space may have asymmetrical layouts, more curvature, neutral elements and bold colors. When adding new furniture to a space, try to find simple details to tie the pieces into the existing space, such as similar styles or finishes. This will help bring continuity to the overall aesthetic.

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4. Ergonomics

Ergonomics is a vital consideration when choosing furniture for a space. Some chair systems, such as Flavors™, are available in multiple sizes to suit many different age groups. Many table systems, such as the Interchange™, offer a height-adjustable function, so the surface can be adjusted for different users.

In recent years there has been a trend towards furniture that encourages movement. Allowing movement promotes concentration and good health. The Flavors™ Noodle chair has a patented suspension that allows it to move with – not resist – the student, and the Zynergy™ Ball Chair helps users expend extra energy to enable them to better focus on the tasks at hand. The Luxor® Crank Adjustable Sit/Stand Desk allows users to change how they work throughout the day. The izzy® Dotti Stool combines height adjustment and movement in a playful, contemporary way to make a fun, engaging product that can suit both children’s and adult spaces alike.

Enabling an adjustable environment through flexible furniture can increase the number of users in a space and the time they spend in that space. To learn more about the trend toward flexible seating options and the health benefits of active furniture, read Top 3 Reasons to Use Flexible Seating in the Classroom, and watch the webinar How to Boost Student Performance with Active Learning Environments.

5. Durability

Durability is important to consider when selecting furniture for your library. The high usage of today’s educational environments, combined with the trend towards mobile and reconfigurable furniture, means having strong, well-designed furniture is essential to maintain an interior’s aesthetic over a number of years.

For lounge seating, we typically recommend a coated fabric for the seat. Coated fabrics are easily cleaned and have a high double-rub rate, meaning they are more resistant to wear and tear. Some fabrics are available with special finishes, such as Crypton®, that increase a fabric’s resistance to liquids and staining. The MOSS 3 Lounge Seating is available in both vinyl and Crypton fabrics as part of its standard color palette.

Laminate is a very durable material, which we always recommend for horizontal surfaces within a space. Even if you have a very traditional interior, today’s woodgrain laminates are very realistic, and it can be very hard to distinguish a laminate woodgrain over a more traditional real wood veneer.

Corian® is another great surface material for high-use work surfaces, as it is very resistant to wear and tear. The TechnoLink® Mobile Info Kiosk is available with a Corian work surface, and its durability will ensure it will look like new after many years of use.

By taking these 5 things into consideration — vision, function, aesthetics, ergonomics and durability — you’ll be able to choose furniture that will not only be useful, but will also enhance the overall character and environment of your library for years to come.

 

Authors

Stephen Gower

Stephen Gower

Design Supervisor at Demco Interiors
Stephen leads Demco’s Design Services team. He is an experienced furniture, product and interior designer with a background in designing educational products and impactful educational interiors. Stephen has 20 years of design experience, including 5 years of international experience at Demco Interiors UK in England. Stephen holds a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in Furniture Design from Brunel University in High Wycombe, England. His awards include the 2017 EDspaces Classroom Design Winner, awarded for “unique spaces designed by leading architects and designers in the field and outfitted with the latest innovations that make learning spaces come to life.”
Amber Beal

Amber Beal

Interior Designer II at Demco Interiors
Amber is well versed in educational products and interior design. She has a particular interest in designing youth spaces and loves incorporating new and innovative products to create engaging environments. She also finds it rewarding to design more efficient library and school interiors that help improve community engagement by encouraging and inviting interaction. Amber holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the University of Wisconsin–Stout and also minored in Sustainable Design and Development. She continues to stay up to date with modern practices and in touch with the design community by being a member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and attending furniture conferences and events.