How designers are helping lobby chairs last longer


In hotel lobbies and lounges, Jenny Vance of Astoria Compass has seen oversized chairs gaining traction. In the ongoing evolution of technology and design, she has noticed armchairs with ports for charging electronic devices. “We saw that in lamps, and then in nightstands,” she said. “Now it’s moving into chairs.” While she calls the trend “super-interesting,” Vance said that it presents limitations. “It must be a static piece,” she said, explaining that the chairs must be positioned close to electrical outlets. Vance has also seen a shift in how chairs in lobbies and lounges are designed to increase usage and longevity.

For example, stretchers—the bars that run between chair legs—provide stability. In a lounge, those stretchers are often used as footrests for guests standing by the bar. This practice, Vance said, causes wear and tear and decreases the overall life of the product. But by raising the bar 2 inches, a designer makes the stretcher less appealing as a footrest and can protect the furniture. Similarly, vinyl or panels of unupholstered wood on the back of a chair serve as easy grabbing points, and will last much longer than a fabric cover can, extending the product’s usability. The company’s Luna chair has been requested by hotels and restaurants “over and over,” Vance said, and is a favorite of Marriott. “With an 18-inch seat height and a 17.5-inch seat depth, this chair accommodates most body types,” Vance said. 

Jeff Post, VP and general manager of Enduratex, has noticed increased demand for ottomans and other modular systems that can be moved around to accommodate people who want to sit in groups. “We see variations that we didn’t see in the past,” he said. “It’s not just a few chairs and tables any longer.”  

“We are seeing a ton of molded, ‘hug your body’ lounge chairs [in lobbies],” Anna England Chaney, a contract furniture designer with Flexsteel Industries, said, echoing the sentiment that lounges and lobbies are becoming multifunctional. “Electrical capabilities are being implemented in soft seating and a lot of spaces are becoming heavily influenced by geography or surroundings, which guides the style of chair that is chosen for the lobby and lounge. It seems to be a great way for properties to further diversify the customer experience.”