One of the most striking developments in the consumption habits of North Americans over the past century has been the shocking rise of cheap, disposable goods. Whether you’re looking for a shaving razor or a coffee table, there are dozens of accessible choices the low prices of which are only matched by the shortness of their life spans.
As the long-term environmental cost of these types of product becomes more widely known, however, people are beginning to ask whether this kind of consumption is sustainable.
It has become commonplace to hear criticisms of the “fast fashion” brands that have become a major source of global pollution, and local jurisdictions around the world have started banning unrecyclable plastics in an attempt to combat the vast garbage patches forming in the Pacific Ocean.
But while many producers have started to turn away from wasteful production models to re-brand themselves as being more eco-friendly, environmentally responsible, and sustainable in their practices, one area of mass production has been slower to catch up: the furniture world.
What is Fast Furniture?
Like fast fashion, fast furniture is designed with one aim in mind: to provide functional items at the lowest possible price available on the market.
Because durable, high quality furniture requires good construction materials and greater craftsmanship, companies producing this kind of furniture have embraced construction techniques that incorporate flimsy cardboard, low-density particle board, and cheap laminate.
This kind of furniture is often designed to look more solid than it is, but once it has been subjected to the wear and tear of daily use, the flaws quickly become apparent as boards warp, surfaces become discoloured or cracked, and chipped edges reveal cheap core materials.
Why it’s Time to Rethink Commercial Office Furniture
While the fast furniture pitch has proved to be a compelling one for large segments of the market, however, there are reasons to believe that a change is underway.
Many designers have become vocal about the drawbacks of fast furniture, and as environmental awareness grows, many consumers are waking up to the fact that outfitting your office with cheap materials isn’t a great way to impress clients.
Businesspeople are also starting to realize that the inherent flaws of fast furniture have detrimental effects on the workplace, both because cheap office workstations simply don’t last, and because scenic views can influence office culture — no one wants to spend their days surrounded by low-grade materials that don’t hold up over time.
For this reason, perhaps 2020 will be the year the business world finally turns against cheap industrial office furniture and demands a more sustainable and thoughtful approach.
After all, the one thing that fast furniture has going for it is convenience, and as alternative providers start to build loyal customer bases by offering high end, affordable, recyclable furniture online, it’s only a matter of time before American companies ditch fast fashion altogether and embrace a more environmentally friendly future for commercial office furniture.