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101 Furniture Information




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This article is from the Ergonomics and Typing Injury FAQ, by Dan Wallach dwallach@cs.princeton.edu with numerous contributions by others.

101 Furniture Information

OK, what we have here is a list of all the manufacturers of computer type
office furniture that I know of. The style of furniture and any known
dimensions are listed together with the addresses of the manufacturer (if
known) and any known suppliers. Also, I'll make a rough stab at what it would
cost to equip me with appropriate tableage for each manufacturer.

DISCLAIMER: I have no interest, financial or otherwise an any supplier listed
in this FAQ. I have not (at this point) done business with any of these
suppliers and have no information about their trustworthiness, reliability, or
ability to deliver the products they claim to sell.

For this purpose, you should know what equipment I'm using. I've got a sun
Sparcstation (Pizza box) with a 19 inch monitor (HUGE, 90 lbs), and external
(shoebox) hard disk, tape drive, and CD units. In my former office, all of this
equipment was set on a 30 inch by 60 inch by 30 inch high table. I was using
the table "sideways,~ meaning that I sat at the head of the table with the
keyboard in front of me, the monitor and pizza box behind the keyboard, and way
down at the other end of the table, were have the shoebox units.

I've since been updated to a "computer workstation" constructed of "modular
furniture." Basically, I've got a 30 inch deep corner unit with 36 inch and 48
inch "wing" tables. All of this stuff is 30 inches high, but there is a
keyboard tray under the corner unit. I sit facing into the corner of the room
with the monitor on the table. The pizza box and the rest of the computer are
on the floor under the table. Overall, this is reasonably satisfactory.
However, it's not perfect. The tables are equipped with privacy panels that are
set in about 6 inches from the far edge of the tables. This prevents the use of
that space by the little roll-around file pedestals that I've been given. Also,
the holes through the table tops are on the far side of the privacy panel. This
makes it inconvenient to route the keyboard cable from a pizza box on the table
or behind the privacy panel out to the front of the system. Some pass-through
holes in the top of the privacy panel would fix this. Also, the keyboard tray
is only 24 inches wide. This is OK for me, as my trackball sits nicely on the
tray next to the keyboard. However, if I were using a mouse, it would be
completely unacceptable. I've had to order wider replacement trays for the five
machines in my computer lab. The drawer slides in the pedestals are very smooth
and work nicely. The slide for the keyboard tray requires that you lift the
tray a little before it will roll in and out. I can't decide if this is a bug
or a feature. I'm not sure who builds this stuff - there's a tag that says
"JAX" on the inside of the privacy panel.

First, some comments on "good" computer furniture. Generally, it is accepted
that keyboard heights should be in the range of 26.5 to 29 inches. This means
that whatever you have, it's too high. Many computer tables have some sort of
shelf, stand, or table which raises the monitor. I think that this is a real
mistake, as you end up hunched forward with your neck tilted back in order to
see the screen. This is particularly painful if you wear bifocals (I'm told).
Virtually all modern monitors offer some kind of tilt and swivel, so for the
furniture to provide this functionality is usually redundant and silly.

Many computers (such as mine) require a vast amount of table depth - I'm using
about 44 inches. One solution to this problem to to design a "corner" type
workstation which is designed to be placed facing into a corner with the users
back to the room. This is a convenient way to create the required depth, and
work tables can be placed on either side of the corner unit for a great deal of
usable work area. However, you can't see anyone come into your office (your
back is to the door), and I would expect that there would be a possibility of
severe glare problems (it's hard to move the screen around to get rid of
glare).

A further comment comes to this section from Chris Grant
<Chris.Grant@um.cc.umich.edu>
... the most important aspect of computer furniture, besides having enough
room for the monitor, is probably the thing that holds up the keyboard and
mouse. Therefore it may be overkill to spend thousands on adjustable
two-part tables if a $100 keyboard tray can be installed. And anybody in
systems furniture has the chance to do another somewhat important item -
lower the worksurface that the monitor sits on.

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The furniture, sources, and my comments

 

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