If you’ve ever looked into purchasing industrial office furniture, or are simply interested in the world of interior design, you may have heard the term “fast furniture” used to talk about cheap, easy-to-assemble flatpack office workspaces.
Like fast fashion, fast furniture has become overwhelmingly popular — but has also come under fire in the business world for its environmental impact.
So what is the truth about fast furniture? Is it simply another example of how modern manufacturing is making goods cheaper and more readily available, or are there hidden costs to the convenience and ease with which it can be purchased?
Why Fast Furniture isn’t the Bargain it Seems
Fast furniture is designed with one aim in mind: the greatest functionality for the lowest possible cost. This may sound like the definition of a good deal, but there are often hidden expenses that quickly make themselves apparent as time goes on.
Fast furniture simply isn’t built to stand up to everyday wear and tear for very long. Even when corners aren’t cut in the actual manufacturing, the pieces have usually not been designed to last longer than a few years.
At some point or another, most of us have probably been inside offices that opted for the most affordable option over the best long-term deal, and you’ve probably seen how this kind of attempt at economy leads to particle board showing under chipped edges and stained Formica desktops that tell of spilled coffee and the rub of countless elbows.
Ultimately, fast furniture may be able to offer a years of service, but it tends to show its age pretty quickly. This might be fine in offices that are not meant to be outward-facing, but if your office is a place you regularly bring clients or potential business partners, then your furniture is essentially part of your branding. And who wants their brand associated with tired, cheap furnishings?
The Environmental Impact of Fast Furniture
This isn’t the only reason to be concerned about fast furniture, however. There is also growing evidence that fast furniture, like fast fashion, is having a serious environmental impact. Fast furniture is extremely wasteful, and because most of it ends up in a landfill after a few years to be replaced by slightly updated versions of the same thing, this rapid turnover is becoming completely unsustainable.
Well-made furniture has a kind of timelessness, but the upshot of investing in good pieces isn’t just that you can use them for longer: should you move again, or should you want to update your furniture for reasons of style, commercial office furniture companies like Branch Furniture offer trade-in options that decrease the price of your new buy while also ensuring that your current furniture doesn’t simply get sent to the dump.
For these reasons, paying a little more for high end commercial office furniture can be a savvy decision. Not only will you get more out of what you buy in the long run, attractive, well-designed pieces that have the added value of being more environmentally-friendly communicate your company’s commitment to ethical consumption and good quality.
Next time you’re on the market for office workstations, remember that while the price tag on fast furniture may seem more appealing, it’s hiding an awful lot of other costs your company will be responsible for down the road.