Home office adapts to space
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, October 29, 2012
HIGH POINT - At the October market, home office resources continued to generate business in small footprints that don't take up a lot of floor space, yet offer plenty of function for consumers.
They also had success with new styles, new finishes and new construction elements that add value to inline groups.
Clean-lined contemporary looks did particularly well at market in orders and commitments, partly due to efforts to appeal to younger and tech savvy consumers.
Martin Home Furnishings received strong response to its Asian/Mission-inspired Kyoto office, one of nine new groups. Retailers liked the clean lines of the group and the application of ash veneers over pieces such as a 54-inch writing desk, a short bookcase and room divider.
Martin also was successful with its new Infinity office collection, a contemporary group featuring 48-inch writing desks, including one with a drop-down center drawer and one with a sliding top work surface and hidden storage.
Retailing from $349 to $399, the desks impressed dealers with their contrasting white work surfaces and solid poplar legs in a chestnut finish. The units, which have companion mobile files and bookcases, also offer functional elements such as built in wire management.
"People are happy to see such a focus on home office from us," said Gil Martin, CEO, adding that the category seems to be regaining ground with retailers who realize they cut back on floor space too quickly in the category in the past four years.
RTA specialists Z-Line Designs and Sauder also did well at market with smaller laptop-friendly desks.
Most of Z-Line's 25 new pieces were smaller footprints that include writing desks geared toward laptop use. Many new models come without keyboard trays, a shift that reflects consumers' increasing use of laptops, as well as iPhones and iPads.
"Technology is really driving home office," said Morgan Sanzo, marketing representative, noting that half of the new items also have built-in USB ports and charging stations.
These and other smaller scale pieces have contemporary designs geared toward younger consumers.
Large-scale pieces including executive desks performed well at resources such as Hooker Furniture, which had one of its strongest home office markets in two to three years, said Hank Long, senior vice president of merchandising and design.
Among the most popular groups with executive desks were Westbury, which featured a 66-inch L-desk configuration and companion hutch retailing at $2,499, and Colonnade, which includes a $1,999 executive desk in a dark cherry finish and featuring a leather top.
Hooker's transitional South Park group also did well with dealers who liked the contrasting chocolate hardwood frames and maple veneer top panels on a 60-inch writing desk, and the maple back panels of companion bookcase units.
"We had some executive groups, which are a lot of dollars, and we were able to layer in some writing desks and smaller office pieces," Long said. "When you have something for everybody, it tends to work pretty well."
Parker House also did well with larger-scale pieces including a new $1,499 to $1,699 executive desk in Corsica and a wall desk in the same traditional collection.