What Happened to the Business Furniture Market in 2016?

We take a look back at Formaspace’s very successful year in the business furniture market – highlighting the major trends in the office furniture, laboratory science, and manufacturing and distribution market segments.


Jeff Turk - Formaspace CEO
Jeff Turk, Formaspace CEO on the right. (The one on the right corner is not Mark Wahlberg 😉 )


2016 Market Segment News: Office Furniture Systems

Formaspace Office Furniture Customers include: CapitalOne, Google, Twitter, Optimizely

Find us at NeoCon 2017

Business-wise, the sales performance among furniture manufacturers decidedly mixed in 2016. While Formaspace continued to show strong growth, many other office furniture manufacturers saw their sales performance drop by as much as 5 – 7 % compared to the previous year.

In June we reported from Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, home of the annual NeoCon conference, the largest office furniture trade event in North America.

Question: What was the major business furniture trend at NeoCon 2016?

(HINT: It wasn’t something that was on the show floor – instead it was conspicuous by its absence.)

Answer: Traditional cubicle systems may be on the way out – they were far and few between at NeoCon.

Instead, we saw many clever hybrid furniture combinations (including free-standing privacy screens and storage furniture that doubled as mobile seating) that provided many of the features of traditional cubicle solutions – but with a more modern, flexible look designed for today’s open workspaces.

This open workplace trend was also on display at the regional NeoCon East show in Philadelphia, where we also reported on some of our favorite products, such as Wolf-Gorden’s Office_Excavate display, Sitmatic’s highly-adjustable office chairs, the Kontour K1 Series monitor arms by Chief, Patcraft’s Mixed Materials Converge™ contract flooring, and Formica’s new Infiniti™ soft-touch laminate product line.


We’re looking forward to June 2017, when NeoCon celebrates its 50th anniversary. Join us at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart as we reveal our latest new line of Formaspace business furniture.


Throughout 2016, we touched on the other hot trends affecting the office furniture market, including:







Industrial Sit-to-Stand Desk - Manufactured by Formaspace
Industrial Sit-to-Stand Desk – Manufactured by Formaspace (This picture has been taken at one of Formaspace executive offices. Our model is one of our design consultants.)


Health was a major concern for our office workplace in 2016.

After a major health scare for one of our employees (whose life was saved by paramedics), Formaspace partnered with the local fire department to conduct employee CPR Training, and we also investigated ways to promote Flu Shots in the office to help prevent mass illness outbreaks at work.

We also investigated many other ways that you can promote wellness at your workplace.


EMS Take 10 compression only CPR
Williamson County EMS teaches Formaspace employees compression only CPR.


2016 Market Segment News: Laboratory Furniture for Wet/Dry/Computer Labs

Formaspace Lab Furniture Customers include Abbot Laboratories, Amgen, Baxter, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson&Johnson, Merck & Co., Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Quest Diagnostics Inc.

pittcon 2016Many of the major health stories of 2016 were of great importance to Formaspace’s laboratory furniture customers as well.

Just as Ebola virus dominated much of the news the year before, the sudden threat of Zika virus spreading across the Western Hemisphere became a top story in public health and laboratory science. We reported on the intensive efforts by lab scientists to develop, test and deploy a safe, effective Zika virus vaccine.

Throughout 2016, Formaspace has also written about many of the new, exciting advances in laboratory science, such as Crisper 9 gene splicing technology.

During March 2016, we attended the 65th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) in Atlanta, Georgia, which featured many of the new laboratory testing devices that support these new technologies.

We’re excited to contribute toward scientific advancement in laboratory science in any way we can — in fact, our participation goes all the way back the original Human Genome Project, which we reported on this year.

We’re also happy to help our customers be more productive (and save them money in the process!) Here are a couple of examples we reported on this year in the laboratory and pharma market segments:

Formaspace computer workstations for industry
This picture has been taken at client’s site, but we won’t say who 🙂



2016 Market Segment News: Industrial Furniture for Manufacturing and Distribution

Formaspace Industrial Manufacturing and Distribution Customers include: 3M, Amazon, Boeing, Keuhne+Nagel, Lockheed Martin, McMaster-Carr Supply Company

As you get to know Formaspace, you’ll soon discover that we are one of the few furniture companies that manufacture all our products in the USA, using steel and other raw materials that are also made in the USA.

And we do everything we can to encourage and promote the return of manufacturing to the USA. (We’re also not apologetic about encouraging businesses to join us here in Texas!)

formaspace made in america
Our production team at our production facility can be seen in the background.

For example, earlier this year we congratulated Airbus, who flew their first American-made Airbus, built in their new factory in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus joins Boeing, which manufactures the 787-9 at its recently established production facility in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of an expanded American aircraft manufacturing footprint in the Southeast region of the US

Yet there was a surprise event in mid-2016: Just as Airbus, the crown jewel of European aerospace, was pursuing its global market strategy, the United Kingdom decided to vote itself out of the European Union. We looked at how this “Brexit” might affect American manufacturing in the short and long term.

2016 saw some other major advances in American manufacturing: we wrote extensively about the ways Elon Musk has shaken up the aerospace industry at SpaceX — and he is doing the same in the car industry (with Tesla Motors) and the renewable energy markets (with Solar City, now part of Tesla Motors).

We took a look at how advances in digitization and the Internet of Things (IoT) will affect the manufacturing and distribution industries. We also looked at how companies, like Amazon, are using robots to speed up the packing station process in warehouse distribution centers.


What About the Future of American Manufacturing? What Better Place to Learn These Skills Than at a Makerspace?

We think it’s critical to engage the next generation to learn hands-on skills that encourage both learning and experimentation and hopefully spark an interest in science, math and manufacturing technology.

Our interview with Austin Techshop Regional Director

What better place to learn these skills than at a makerspace?

We interviewed Mark Emanuel, a Regional Director at TechShop, one of the leading makerspaces with centers around the country and around the world to find out how these facilities can help inspire the next generation to build things with their hands.

We hope you’ll find the time to help get out and support the local makerspaces in your area – if there isn’t one close by you, take a look at our guide for building or expanding your own makerspace.


Time to Celebrate with a Bit of Fun

We also had a bit of fun this year looking back at the Hollywood film and television productions that featured Formaspace furniture in front of the camera.


Emma Stone - Formaspace benches
Emma Stone – Formaspace benches (Don’t we all like her? )


Formaspace got caught up in the Pokémon craze during 2016 as well – in our view, the Pokémon game is actually a good way to get out of the office to enjoy some fresh air and get some exercise.

Speaking of time to celebrate, we here at Formaspace wish you and yours a most prosperous 2017.

We’re here to serve you through December 30th, and then we’ll be enjoying a day off on New Year’s Day and the day after.

We’ll return to the office on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017. See you then!



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