Office furniture glossary
Confused by huge array of jargon surrounding office furniture and space planning? It’s hardly surprising, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of all the terms and terminology that you’ll come across when planning a new office, buying new furniture or researching new products. If you find anything missing here, just let us know.
Glossary of furniture terms
A panel that absorbs sound, reducing noise in an office space. These can be free standing, permanently fixed to a wall or suspended from the ceiling. There are lots of decorative panels to brighten up any office.
Acrylic Desk Screens
Screens to protect against coughs, sneezes and other nasties. Ideal for every office with multiple employees, these screens sit on the desk perimeter adding privacy but maintaining the open plan impression. In the current climate these are also known as covid protection screens.
Refers to the arms of a chair that can be manually adjusted. They can be height or width adjustable, can rotate, or can slide. The more adjustable, the better the comfort that can be achieved.
Adjustable guides, or levellers, can be found on the base of furniture to help keep the furniture level on an uneven floor.
A feature that ensures a drawer does not open or recoil when closed with normal force.
A handle that outward from the surface of the drawer / furniture.
The computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software used by most architecture and interior design industry professionals to generate drawings If you’ve received plans for your new office design it’s more than likely drafted on AutoCAD.
Refers to the angle of a chairs’ back in relation to the seat. Office chairs are often available with adjustable back pitch for comfort.
The BBF in BBF Pedestal stands for Box-Box-File. A B-B-F pedestal is a pedestal that has 3 drawers, two “box” drawers top and middle, and a larger file draw at the bottom.
Rows of seating all joined together typically seen in waiting rooms and reception areas. Find more information about beam seating by following the link.
Bench desks are desktops that share a frame and can be placed together to form a large working area for multiple users.
The trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers. BIFMA has been the voice of the commercial furniture industry since 1973.
Bow Front Work surface
A work surface that curves (or bows) at the front to provide some extra space to work.
A simple drawer found in a typical pedestal.
The term bridge can refer to the work surface that connects a desk and credenza that forms a U-shaped configuration around the user, and also refer to a Bridge desk, inspired by the city of Proto, typically made from Oak or Walnut and having steel arcs that span the legs of the desk.
A bullet top is a work surface that, when viewed from above, has a round circular shape at one end and a flat end at the other – a similar shape to a bullet. The circular end is typically supported by a leg or post.
A support leg making a C shape at each end of a desk or workstation. The C shape allows gives more leg space underneath by removing the need for a leg at the front.
The organisation, protection, and routing of wiring throughout the office. There are many different types of cable management products available.
A table with a C-shaped base that can slide under a side or lounge chair to save space.
A wheel that is attached to the bottom of a piece of furniture to allow for easy movement. Often seen on office chairs and pedestals.
A low-set table designed for casual settings and to hold small items such as literature and beverages. Ideal for use in a reception area or breakout area.
The abbreviation “COL” stands for “Customers Own Leather.” (similar to COM). COL allows for specifying and sourcing the materials used for upholstering a piece of furniture. This could be required when a manufacturers leather is not suitable.
This abbreviation stands for “Customers Own Material.” (similar to COL).
Computer Desks are normally designed for home use, suited to users who need a monitor, computer tower and a printer. Computer Desks are bulkier than writing tables. Their practicality makes them a good choice for small business and home offices. Computer desks are sometimes designed with a hutch to help make the most of the space above the computer, and sometimes they have front-closing cabinet doors. They remain a popular option for home offices.
Smalls weights placed in furniture to prevent the risk of tipping over.
Corner desk / table / workstation
Designed to fit into a 9-degree corner, great for maximising space.
A sideboard or cabinet, often found in a conference room, used for storage and ideal for keeping an area free from clutter. They can also be used to display items too.
A panel set between two workstations to separate the two and provide personal workspaces. These are often seen on the desks of open plan offices.
Double Pedestal Desk
A desk configuration that has two pedestals at either end of the desk and the leg space in the middle.
A type of carpentry joint to secure two right angled pieces of wood. These joints are very resistant to being pulled apart.
The layout or arrangement of a set of drawers within a piece of furniture. An example would be the B-B-F configuration (see BBF above).
A large cylindrical base used to support a work surface or table.
A panel that runs the entire depth of a desk or work surface that provides an attractive finish while improving safety and durability. End panels are typically available in straight, wave, crescent or corner shapes.
Furniture designed with comfort, functionality and the movement of the human body in mind. Ergonomic furniture helps to avoid stress or injury in the workplace. This type of furniture reduces the risk of musculoskeletal problems, neck pain, joint pain, back issues, arthritis, restricted organs and poor blood pressure.
An Executive Chair is a premium, high backed chair providing comfortable support to the entire upper body.
The veneer on the visible surfaces of a piece of furniture.
Feng Shui Office
The Chinese words ‘Fen’ and ‘Shui’ means ‘wind’ and ‘fire’. The concept derived from an ancient poem base on the deep connection between human life and surrounding environment. Practitioners or Feng Shui believe that everything from furnishing to décor has an ‘energy’ and how we arrange these things can impact all aspects of our lives. Please read our full article here: Feng Shui Office – The Ultimiate Guide
F/F stands for file/file configuration of a pedestal. (See BBF pedestal above).
A flipper door is a door that lifts open and retracts back out of view leaving an accessible draw or storage space, similar to how a garage door operates.
Floor standing partitions
Moveable office screens used to create flexible rooms in an open plan office. Available in fabric, wood and glass and can be linked together to create a required size.
Folding / Flip-top Table
Table with a top that folds of flips, ideal for meeting rooms for flexible use as they can be quickly arranged and re-arranged.
Refers to furniture that is not mechanically fixed to a wall or floor.
The furniture plan details the new and existing furniture in a proposed floorplan.
Glass Desks are a sure way of maximizing any small space. They help to give the illusion of space whilst letting natural or artificial light pass through. Glass desks are usually rectangular in shape and are available in a variety of colours. Monitor arms cannot be used on glass top desks as they clamp to the edge of the desktop.
Small pads or feet attached to the bottom of furniture to make it easier to move the furniture without damaging the floor.
The plastic covering that covers the hole in a desk or workstation used for cable management.
Height adjustable desks
Desks where the height of the desk can be changed to provide a more comfortable workstation. These desks are often referred to as standing desks. These desks are available with a variety of height adjustment mechanisms, including manual height adjustment, gas strut mechanisms, electric and electronic height adjustable desks.
A storage unit that sits on top of a credenza, ideally suited for display.
Integrated combination desks utilize storage units or drawer units as part of their structure: the drawer or storage units replaces the usual supporting leg. This serves to increase leg space, especially on smaller desks.
A method of locking drawers together so that only one draw can open at a time. This interlock system is a key safety feature to prevent tipping.
A shelf located on the underside of a workstation that can hold a keyboard.
A chair that positions you with an open hip angle with your bottom and thighs supported by one pad, and your knees and shins supported by another.
A filing cabinet that is wider than is deep, allowing for side-to-side filing. The lateral file cabinet is differentiated from the vertical file cabinet by its short and wide build.
The amount of time that is required for production and delivery of a piece of furniture following ordering.
The corner connector used secure and support where two panels meet at a 90-degree angle.
The part of a char that provides support for the lower back. When sitting in an office chair, a good lumbar back support should be flush against the small of the back.
Pressure relieving foam which moulds to user shape, used on office chairs.
A breathable material on a chair that stretches, gives instant support and comfort, and provides great ventilation allowing a user to stay nice and cool. See our range of mesh back office chairs for more examples.
Any type of woodwork that is produced in a mill. This can include counters, shelving, cabinetry, wall panelling, moulding, trim and more.
Compared to western culture, where daily life is controlled by the accumulation of things, Chinese and Japanese cultures have long associated minimalism with happiness. Minimalism is about avoiding the unnecessary. Its concentration on the essential and uncluttered, and its ‘less is more’ approach, leads to a certain simplicity and elegance. When it comes to the world of work, a minimalist approach can create functional spaces that help enhance productivity, whilst acting as a counterweight to cluttered work environments associated with high stress levels.
A small storage unit with casters to allow for mobility. Typically used for files and/or personal storage. Ideal for providing storing underneath a desk or workstation.
A type of furniture designed to work both standalone and fitted together as part of a larger set. Examples include modular office sofas or modular meeting tables.
Monitor arms are a replacement for traditional monitor stands. They are mounting solutions for flat screens, handling up to eight monitors at a time. Monitor arms are fitted with clamps or through desk fixings and can be provided with full cable management.
Office pods are a cost effective and simple solution for creating additional workspaces or meeting rooms within the office. Office pods offer a significant degree of privacy, can be easily installed and can be used to create meeting rooms without planning permission or expensive construction work.
Permanent or temporary structures to enclose areas within an existing room. to create informal and formal workspace solutions that will allow you to meet, socialise, focus and collaborate with the team.
Desks and partitions put together to create an open working environment. Find out more about reducing noise in an open plan office.
When planning multiple workstation clusters for a space, it is the dimension of a panels thickness multiplied by how many times it occurs across all the workstations.
A pedestal is a filing unit normally located under a worksurface top. A pedestal, or ped, can be fixed or mobile, and can have different drawer configurations.
A peninsula top is similar to a bullet top in that when viewed above, one end of the worktop is rounded, and the other is flat.
Pigeon holes are used in a variety of environments: school, universities, offices, factories, postal service, shops to mention only a few. They are outstanding storage units and they can be installed in any place you like. One of the benefits of office pigeonholes is that they are designed to maximize space. If you need a place to storage documents, they are a great solution. They come in different sizes, so they have a wider variety of uses. They can be used to storage books, documents, different objects and more. They are very versatile and simplistic in nature and design. They are very flexible storage unit, and you can customize it according to your needs.
An aerial view of office space.
Pneumatic Height Adjustment
The feature on an office chair that allows the height to be adjusted by the user and made comfortable for an individual users’ height.
A chair providing lumbar support that shapes your body correctly to support the natural curve in your back.
A cable management system designed to route cabling along office furniture and partitions.
The rounded edge on the tops of desks and credenzas.
A sideboard stands at the side of an office to provide both a storage area and a surface area for display. Similar to a Credenza.
Sliding Seat Pan
A moveable seat that can be adjusted to shorten or lengthen the seat size to provide improved comfort for different size uses.
Sofa meeting pod
An enclosed space with sofas opposite each other, offering additional privacy and are ideal for meetings.
Sofa meeting booth
Simlar to sofa meeting pods, these are sofas with extended high sides that form a booth. These are not typically enclused like a sofa meeting pod.
The interior design method of arranging office layouts to enable employees to work together, providing them with the best opportunity to create an efficient workflow, communication and supervision and increase productivity. BT Office furiture offer office space planning services.
The spine is the backbone panel that runs down the middle of a workstation pod that all perpendicular panels connect into.
Chairs designed to stack one on top of another to minimise the space needed for storage.
Panels and shapes hung from the ceiling not only provide an excellent sound absorbing function but can also be used to divide a space or provide an interesting element of design to the office. Also known as acoustic panels.
Office storage units that provide bespoke storage solutions.
Storage units designed for decreasing clutter and stowing away the many office accessories, folders, documents, and similar. Tambour doors slide back into the unit, making them ideal storage solutions for offices low on space.
A type of office pod that looks like a telephone booth. The booth offers a single person privacy to work or take / make calls.
A mechanical feature usually adjusted by a knob located under the seat of a chair that controls the degree of resistance the chair provides when leaning back.
Tilt Top Table
A tilt top table attached to the pedestal or base with one or more hinges that allow for the table top to be turned from a horizontal to vertical position, taking up less space when storing.
The finishing piece added to the top of a workstation post or panel.
“U” Shaped Desk / Workstation
A desk or workstation that has a wraparound design offering a workspace on 3 sides.
A thin strip of real wood glued on to a substrate of plywood or particle board.
A filing cabinet that is deeper than it is wide, in which records can only be stored front to back. (Also see Lateral file).
Vertical Raceway Panel
A panel with an interior vertical cavity to bring power and data above work surface height.
Furniture or accessories that are mounted directly to a drywall partition, rather than hung from a furniture panel.
Office Work Booths are the perfect agile working solution for your evolving office environment. They provide the ideal quiet workspace. The fabric upholstered acoustic surround panels work as an effective noise-reducing barrier whilst providing a private work area. They also feature the ability to integrate media and power facilities within their panels. A standard single person booth is 1700 mm wide x 1200 mm deep with a screen height of 1100 mm, 1400 mm or 1800 mm.
Writing desks are available in a wide variety of styles, ranging from rustic barnwood to sleek, modern manufactured wood. These desks vary widely in size, but they are at least 90cms wide by 60cms deep. Writing Desks have a flat surface, and can include some small shelves or drawers underneath the main writing surface. Some models don’t have any drawers: these can be a good solution for people who need only a simple surface in order to focus on writing. A Writing Desk will accommodate a laptop comfortably, though they are not designed to support heavy equipment.
Here at BT Office Furniture & Interiors, we supply and install office furniture throughout most of the UK. With almost 50 years’ experience, our team of professionally trained installers have an extensive product knowledge when it comes to finding the best office chair for bad backs.
If you require further information about any of our products, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team.