As Millennial tastes drive the market for commercial and contract furniture, manufacturers can say goodbye to traditional wood and color designs. 

Commercial and contract furniture are trending with Millennial taste, which are also driving the residential furniture and kitchen cabinetry design. Manufacturers are seeing a move from traditional designs and darker woods like cherry, to lighter woods such as oak and walnut, and neutral finishes accented with bold colors.

Today’s Design Trends: Today’s look is all about smooth, clean lines, finished with lighter, neutral stains or clear coats. When it comes to color, think of designers using the room as a neutral palette and combining it with vibrant accent colors like orange, ochre or blue. While shades of gray are common, white is also a perfect background because it allows the accent color to “pop” while still being the predominant color. You can also consider going in the opposite direction and having a black background, as it lends an interesting contrast to a room that primarily includes lighter colors.

Different Strokes for Different Coasts: As you may imagine, today’s coastal trends often distinctly vary from the designs present in the rest of the country. For example, you won’t typically see a rattan chair in the Midwest. Just as well, furniture that outfits an office suite in Chicago is likely not a design you’ll see in Orange County. However, overall, the neutral pallet of blonde stains and clear coats, along with white, black and gray painted finishes, hold sway across the nation.

Get a deeper look into color and finishing trends, and learn how they’re incorporated into contract furniture here.

The “Perfect 10” Finish: Another trend we’re seeing more is flat finishes in the matte range – not completely flat, but dryer than a satin, with thin coats between five and ten sheen. But how are finishes chosen? Coatings manufacturers work with furniture designers as early as the sketch design processes. Once the finishes are chosen, the coatings manufacturer supplies panels to the specifier, refining as wood species are selected.

There’s also the choice between spray and wiping finishing. Both have their benefits; however, many manufacturers use wiping stains. As the stain is wiped off the wood in this manual process, it’s only a small step to customize that wood by highlighting it with a quick swipe of an abrasive pad or steel wool. It’s just one of several finishing touches that add another dimension to the furniture, creating a canvas on a piece of wood at very little added cost.

Finally, contract furniture lends itself well to flatline UV finishing, which offers efficiencies and energy savings. This finishing technique allows for the finishing of flat objects such as doors and panels under a spray. The system works well with clear-coat, solvent-based and waterborne finishes, and also with waterborne pigmented coatings.

Partnering for Success: It’s important for a contract furniture manufacturer to understand the potential benefits of working closely with a coating supplier, from color forecasting and trending, to new technologies that lend themselves to consistency and durability. The furniture produced for this market must do double duty; not only must it look great and remain stylish, but it also must remain durable.

To learn more about finishing trends in contract furniture and how manufacturers are working with coatings suppliers, click here.

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