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Office desks & tables underscore safety, ergonomics

Office desk makers reduce the risk of injury by using better materials and modifying structures.

Suppliers of office desks and tables in China are concentrating improvement efforts on safety and user convenience. In line with the former, manufacturers are intensifying the adoption of better materials.

Office desk

Shenghuadeli offers this office desk that meets BIFMA standards.

Mostly employing regular glass tops for its reception counters in the past, Kingsen Office Furniture Co. Ltd now utilizes tempered variants. Besides being highly impact-resistant, these parts shatter into very small fragments when broken, thereby lessening the risk of injury. Models are priced the same as previous releases.

Taking safety a notch higher, the Guangdong province-based maker offers such pieces with curved edges instead of the traditional sharp corners.

Senyi Furniture Co. Ltd, meanwhile, incorporates steel frames in wooden workstations to reinforce strength and load capacity. Because metal generally lasts longer than the latter material, designs do not collapse even after extended use.

The application of nontoxic paint is gaining ground as well. Xinya Furniture Ltd utilizes E1-grade coating materials, which have low VOC and formaldehyde levels, eliminating health and environmental hazards.

In terms of ergonomics, Kingsen has reduced the leg sizes of its corner desks to avoid contact with users’ feet, especially when moving such pieces.

Shenghuadeli Furniture Industry Co. Ltd, meanwhile, is releasing foldable models that facilitate storage.

Product gallery

Conference table

This conference table from Senyi is made of MDF with zebra veneer.

Export growth continues

Propelled by the recovery of key overseas markets such as North America and the EU, China exports of office furniture are on the upswing. The line includes desk and tables.

Customs statistics indicate that in 2010, the volume and value of metal designs sent abroad reached 9.4 million pieces worth $265 million. These represent an increase of 4 and 26 percent from the previous year.

The figures, however, are still lower than those in 2008 when companies shipped a total of 12.8 million pieces, generating $298 million in overseas revenue.

For wooden models, exports totaled 17.1 million pieces last year, raking in $700 million. The numbers are up 26 and 35 percent from 2009. The values even surpassed 2008 figures of 16.1 million desks and tables worth $607 million, by 6 and 15 percent.

Suppliers are optimistic growth will continue until year-end. This positive forecast comes amid projected price markups in coming months due to swelling material and labor costs.

Reception counter

Kingsen offers this reception counter with a 12mm-thick tempered glass top

Office desks & tables

China makers offer a range of office desks and tables in wood, metal and glass, or a combination of two or more materials. The selection also includes reception counters, workstations and conference tables. The materials are the main price differentiators.

In general, the most expensive models come entirely in solid wood. Select pieces from Senyi, however, incorporate steel frames. These are priced 50 percent higher than the company’s MDF releases.

Additionally, the type of glue, paint and adornments influences rates. The adoption of E1-grade variants of the first two, for instance, can raise prices between 20 and 50 percent compared with the utilization of E2 or E3 materials.

The product size also affects prices. Large designs are usually priced higher than smaller counterparts as these require more materials.

A 2,480x1,500x760mm office desk from Xinya using MDF and melamine board, for example, goes for $280, while a similar model that measures 1,600x800x760mm is priced at $185.

Typically, China releases have lengths ranging from 1,700 to 2,200mm, and widths between 800 and 1,000mm. The height is from 650 to 800mm. These start at $80 and can exceed $1,000.

Low-end pieces utilize melamine and particleboard, and come with fixed or detachable drawers. Prices are $80 to $200.

Going for $210 to $500, midrange office desks adopt melamine board or MDF. A number of designs are extendable, and may be offered with matching coffee tables and side cabinets. Some also boast rust-resistant metal components and aluminum linings for enhanced visual appeal.

Most high-end versions are made of E0 or E1-grade MDF with a layer of wood veneer. Select releases feature parts upholstered with PU leather. Premium models may have the same add-ons as midrange pieces. Prices start at $500. Many solid wood designs exceed $1,000.

Office desk

Homestar’s office desk has a metal frame and a tempered glass top.

Makers upgrade product attributes

China suppliers of home office furniture are directing R&D efforts toward design enhancements.

Because households often have smaller areas than workplaces, more companies are releasing space-saving models. Such pieces typically come in reduced sizes and can be extended or folded.

Most designs are also made to match different home motifs and are available in a wide range of colors.

In terms of safety, manufacturers are offering versions with curved edges to prevent injury. Select pieces even boast plastic padding along the corners.

To boost durability, Senyi Furniture Co. Ltd is adopting solid wood for legs and frames.

Shenghuadeli Furniture Industry Co. Ltd, meanwhile, is improving the mobility of its releases with the incorporation of casters.

Prices of China-made home office furniture rose between 5 and 10 percent from last year.

Suppliers predict prices will continue to go up by about 5 percent in the next six months due mainly to swelling material and labor costs, and the yuan’s appreciation against the US dollar and other foreign currencies.

In 1Q11, for example, outlay for MDF underwent a YoY increase of 8 percent. During the period, manpower spending also soared by 15 to 20 percent.

To cope, companies are employing less costly materials and updating production equipment to automated versions. The latter strategy reduces the need for manual work.

Homestar Corp. invests in staff training to raise worker efficiency.

The provinces of Guangdong and Sichuan are the main sourcing hubs for home office furniture in China. The former boasts between 1,500 and 1,800 enterprises, with Guangzhou, Dongguan, Foshan, Shenzhen and Zhongshan the key cities.

Most makers are privately owned small companies that focus on the domestic market. Only about one-fifth of the manufacturing pool caters exclusively to international buyers. North America, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Middle East are the main export locations.

Sichuan, meanwhile, hosts an estimated 200 suppliers. They ship products to the US, Europe and Southeast Asia. Most models from the province come in fiberboard and solid wood. Besides home office furniture, makers offer outdoor and living room pieces.

Home office desk

Product gallery

Homestar Corp.

Model: H10-S0153
MOQ: 500 pieces
Delivery: 60 days
Price: $65
Description: Home office desk; maple finish; pullout keyboard tray, CPU storage, box drawer, fixed shelves; 47¼x23⅝x61in; CARB 2

Office desk

Kingsen Office Furniture Co. Ltd

Model: KF-DK189+FP3D
MOQ: 5 pieces
Delivery: 25 days
Price: $47
Description: Office desk; 25mm MFC top with 2mm edge, 18mm MFC panels; 1,800x900x730cm

Office desk

Kingsen Office Furniture Co. Ltd

Model: KF-RDM160+DHP438
MOQ: 5 pieces
Delivery: 25 days
Price: $116.50
Description: Office desk; 25mm modesty panel and top with 3mm edge, metal legs; side drawers can store A4 and foolscap files; 1,200 or 1,600x600 or 800x730cm

Office desk

Shenghuadeli Furniture Industry Co. Ltd

Model: SH-018
MOQ: 20 pieces
Delivery: 10 days
Price: $312
Description: Office desk; MDF, wood veneer; 240x240x100cm; BIFMA

Office desk

Shenghuadeli Furniture Industry Co. Ltd

Model: SH-078
MOQ: 500 pieces
Delivery: 30 days
Price: $625
Description: Office desk; MDF, wood veneer; 320x320x125cm; BIFMA

Office desk

Senyi Furniture Co. Ltd

Model: SM-158
MOQ: 10 sets
Delivery: 20 days
Price: $1,148
Description: Office desk; MDF with catalpa veneer, stainless steel legs; 280x150x76cm; 200x40x105cm bookcase, 150x40x65cm side-return extension

Office desk

Senyi Furniture Co. Ltd

Model: SL612
MOQ: 10 sets
Delivery: 20 days
Price: $1,511
Description: Office desk; MDF, catalpa veneer; 320x120x76cm; 504x45x220cm bookcase, 150x45x60cm side-return extension, 60x50x60cm pedestal desk

Note: This article "Office desks & tables underscore safety, ergonomics" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.

All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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