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The Modular Office

Contract furniture has many standards: Standards sizes, standard shapes, standard materials. Office spaces, however, are rarely that way. The new standard of the modern office is that there are none; flexibility is crucial and furniture manufacturers have taken notice, creating modular lines that can meet the ever-changing needs of businesses and make difficult spaces easier to design.

National Office Furniture - Epic Line.

National Office Furniture – Epic Line.

What exactly does modular mean? Most furniture comes pre-assembled and pre-sized, while modular furniture comes in separate components that allow you to “create your own” pieces. There are very few constraints with modular furniture, which is ideal for offices that seem to have nothing but. A desk can be built from a few pieces and can come in almost any size. National Office Furniture’s Wave Works line even goes so far as to cut worksurfaces and corresponding support pieces to any modified size. This is ideal for spaces that are using furniture around the perimeter or for offices where a standard size might be just slightly too big to meet certain code requirements. Having the option to cut a workstation to size (at no additional cost) can make planning small or odd spaces much easier. It not only gives the designer more ways to arrange the furniture, it can also help the end user maximize space.

National Office Furniture- Waveworks Line.

National Office Furniture- Waveworks Line.

Another benefit of modular furniture is versatility, both in how it can be used and the available styles. Since nothing is pre-assembled, worksurfaces can have interesting shapes and pieces can easily be taken apart and reconfigured into new arrangements. Sometimes additional pieces are required, but almost always all the existing parts can be used in some capacity. When one has an “L” or “U” shaped desk, they are often stuck with the direction of the unit and it cannot be changed later if needed. However, if the unit is built with modular components, it can easily be re-worked to either be used in a new space that requires a different layout or to update the current space.

National Office Furniture - Waveworks Line. Modular "L" Unit Configuration.

National Office Furniture – Waveworks Line.                  Modular “L” Unit Configuration.

This is also possible with shell desks, a style of furniture that is somewhere between modular and assembled. Shell desks are just what they sound like: an open shell that can have pedestals (drawers) added as a separate piece. This creates a desk that can go in any direction. Sizes are standard with these pieces, so they are not as useful in offices with limited space. Modular pieces can be used in conjunction with both assembled and shell desks, making them even more versatile.

HON - Basyx Laminate Desk Shell.

HON Office Furniture- Basyx Laminate Desk Shell.

HON - Basyx Laminate Desk Shell with curved extension.

HON Office Furniture – Basyx Laminate Desk Shell with curved extension.

Modular furniture can also help with budget constraints. It is competitively priced against assembled furniture, but may have a greater return on investment given the ability of the end user to consistently rework the current space with the same furniture. The option for smaller sizes usually means a smaller price tag and clients can opt to customize the workstations so that they aren’t getting any unnecessary storage. Since pieces can be added later, there is no need to pay for storage or workspace that won’t be used right away.

Herman Miller - Tu Storage: Modular Pedestal.

Herman Miller – Tu Storage: Modular Pedestal with cushion tops in private office setting.

Herman Miller - Tu Storage: Modular Pedestal.

Herman Miller – Tu Storage: Modular Pedestals with Sense Desking.

Room for change is a necessity in today’s office landscape. More people, less space and a need to maximize work area can make modular furniture a great choice for many businesses. It might not be right for everyone, but when an office seems like it has no options, modular furniture might just be the solution.

Laura Strauch, Widmer Interiors Designer,

Laura Strauch, Designer

For more information on National Office modular furniture, you can reach Laura Strauch at