Your Guide to Choosing & Specifying the Ideal Seating
The process of choosing the ideal seating for your project just got really simple. Striking the perfect balance between functionality, aesthetic and comfort is a challenge and can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. All you need is an open mind and a little understanding of what makes the perfect seating for the project. Follow this simple checklist to make sure all the important boxes are ticked.
Context is key when choosing a style. Seating will often set the tone for a space and makes a big impact on the overall look. Are you looking for a slim, fine featured lounge for a subtle accent or a broad stately sofa with a bold presence? Does the surrounding space call for minimalist modern, simple Nordic, welcoming curves or luxury finishes? The style is a small consideration that is easy to get hooked on, but it is only one part of the journey to finding the perfect sofa. Know which you style you like and which style suits your space, but don’t get fixed on it yet; this is only part one of many factors to consider.
Essentially, find out what the seating will be used for. This is so key in ensuring the choice of seating will serve its purpose and create a functional asset. Being clear on the use impacts your decisions further on in the journey. Is the seating for relaxation? Quiet focused work? Team meetings? Group collaboration? An eating bench in a restaurant? Or is it primarily a visual accent? Either way, the seating is required to enrich the comfort of the person who uses it and tie in aesthetically with the surrounding space.
The Size & Shape
You will probably have some idea of the size of the ideal sofa. Chances are you’re visualising the size of its presence in the room and this often depends on the amount and positioning of other furniture in the room. Consider the footprint of the seating in the room, ideally on a scaled plan drawing, or if the seating is for an existing space, create a virtual footprint on the floor with masking tape to get an idea of how much floor space the seating will occupy. It may seem obvious, but remember you’ll need ‘breathing space’ around your seating for things like doors to open, through traffic, access to bookshelves (and of course space for people to stand back and admire!)
The Comfort Factor
The comfort factor reflects the use to an extent and comes from a number of factors including frame, suspension and foam, all built in to offer a comfortable seat. Corporate seating for offices is ideally high-density foam to ensure longevity, with layers of lower density foam and Dacron to bring comfort. American Oak timber or plywood frames with steel reinforcements as required are sturdy structural surety ensuring the seating is just as high quality inside as it is aesthetic outside. Do you want to sink into your lounge for some homely comfort or sit upright for corporate collaboration? Specify your comfort level and to ensure the structure and comfort meet your needs.
The upholstery options are endless! It’s easy to be carried away with the perfect pattern – spot stripe or texture, but first, let’s reveal some more cover options you’ll need to consider. The main upholstery categories are fabric (Crypton, heavy duty and residential grade), leather and vinyl.
Fabric upholstery is mostly a cost effective option and a broadest spectrum of options, offering a range of colours, patterns and textures. Fabric typically requires more maintenance and is prone to wear, however, a range of upgrade options make fabric upholstery longer lasting. Choose upholstery fabric with a high commercial rub rate (40,000+ Martindale rubs) or upgrade fabric upholstery with FR (fire retardant) treatment or choose Crypton (anti-stain) fabrics for eating areas.
High-quality leather is easier to clean, long-lasting and tends to age more gracefully, however, shows scratches more readily. If you’re looking for longevity, easy care and aesthetic, vinyl is the intermediary option, offering heavy duty commercial rub ratings, easy care, easy to clean and is cost effective. Modern vinyl comes in a range of realistic leather or fabric look and a wide range of colours and textures.
Accept nothing but good quality, and that goes beyond a nicely sewn cover. Good quality seating will be constructed from good quality components, right from the core. Sturdy lasting frames will be built with solid timber or plywood frames, reinforced with steel beams where necessary. High-quality foam and Dacron layers ensure lasting comfort. Take the opportunity to specify high-quality aesthetic features too, like contrasting top stitch, buttoning, piping and scatter cushions.
The base is both a functional and an aesthetic choice. Depending on the seating type, position and surrounding finishes, your seating base may be metal legs, a metal frame, timber legs, timber frame, laminate, mirror and almost any other finish you desire. Typically metal or timber feet or frame suit lounge designs while plastic glides are best for ottomans and low modular seating that sits directly on the floor.
Booth and banquette seating typically require a melamine plinth base with kicker finish of your choice, here Laminate is the most functional option and there is a large range of plain, timber grain, mirror or textured Laminate finishes as a feature or to match nearby joinery. For a more luxury finish and aesthetic, choose from a range of natural timber veneers. If you are unsure which base look you prefer, browse the options to help visualise the ideal seating support to suit your space.
Take a Set [The End Result]
The purpose of stepping through this process of analysis, material investigation and research is to break down the big decision into morsels and help you realise that the style, use, size, components, upholstery, quality, features and function are all key factors that blend to combine the ideal seating option for your project space. The ideal seating is a blend of all these attributes, learn not to miss any of these features when choosing seating, to ensure the end result is a winner with function, aesthetic and budget.
To make the seating journey a smooth one with a successful outcome, download the checklist for choosing or specifying seating, it’s a quick one-pager tick box form that ensures you won’t overlook important details again. What’s more, if finding the perfect seating is proving impossible, send us your completed checklist and we’ll send you seating options to meet your needs. Or if you’re looking for a personally tailored experience, we’ll work together with you to design the perfect custom seating solution.
Refer to these tips for specifying seating next time you are working on a project, to ensure every aspect is thought through.