How task furniture is staying ahead of the curve

With business and leisure travelers alike making new demands of hotel room workspaces, designers and suppliers are finding new ways to create desks and tables that will accommodate a growing range of needs.

“We are seeing an increase in multiuse pieces,” said Jenny Vance, Astoria Compass VP, highlighting tables with height-adjustable tops or with casters that let guests move the furniture around the room as needed. This, she explained, allows one piece of furniture to “morph” from a basic table to a game center to a family dinner table. Josh Murrietta, manager at All Wood Treasures, has seen a similar trend, with combination desks and tables that are often longer and open on two sides to accommodate diners.

“It helps to streamline the room,” he said noting the growing trend of incorporating desks into open storage spaces and opting for desks without drawers. “They may have false drawers or no drawers at all,” he said. This can simply be a financial factor because drawers (and their various components) can drive up the cost of a desk and require additional maintenance.

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Carleton Woodring, project manager at Biscayne Hospitality, has similarly seen more streamlined models of tables and desks in guestrooms, with narrower dimensions for a sleeker look. “Our clients want residential-looking furniture built to hotel standards,” Woodring said. To that end, his company uses thicker veneers on desks than would normally be found in a private home—0.7 millimeter or better, he said. While this can drive up the cost, he noted, thicker veneers help protect the furniture and prolong the durability. Another option, he said, is glass or stone tops, which can reduce the risk of nicks and scratches. “It’s also a more cosmopolitan presentation, especially in gateway markets like New York and Chicago,” he said. 

Murrietta said that he sees the use of solid surface or backpainted glass “as a level of protection” on desks. “Wood has performed well using pre-catalyzed lacquer,” he said. “Some clients do clear glass or backpainted glass, or even solid surface or natural stone.” Beyond personal preference in terms of materials, he said the only main issue in selecting materials for desks is cost. “For budget-sensitive jobs, instead of wood, we use laminates, even laminates that look like stone,” he said. “At the higher level, we still use wood or solid surface.”