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Office Furniture Terminology – 8 Words That Are Misused All the Time

Ask a bunch of people the first picture that comes to their mind when you say the words- Communication Barrier. Most of them will respond with having pictured people of different nationalities experiencing difficulty communicating, owing to them not able to speak in one common knowledge. The same goes for for words in the design industry i.e furniture terminology.

Hailing from different countries isn’t the only reason for people to speak in different languages. When two professionals are from different industries, trying to communicate in a simple common language may be harder than it sounds. It’s often the cause of confusion and delays.

So like with any industry, we often find ourselves trying to decipher what our client’s are trying to say, or vice versa. It’s best to make sure everyone’s on the same page. It allows for smooth communication and an easy buying process for everyone. Which is why we highly recommend you have a look at the below glossary of the most common terms that are misinterpreted, in no particular order

Cubicle Workstation

The all-encompassing word to describe anything an employee can settle into and work. 99% of the time, all that’s needed is a desking or a simple benching system. Cubicles are also outdated and consume a lot of space. Ask for or share a layout of the space to get a better idea of your requirements.

Office Accessories

Accessories can mean many things – desk accessories, IT accessories, card holders, even office stationery. It’s best to be specific – items like monitor arms, lighting and ergonomic accessories come fall under the general scope of what a commercial furniture dealer can provide.

While Stationary does not fall under this,I highly recommend you ask your dealer anyway. Several furniture dealerships also offer products like writable surfaces, so you’d be surprised at what they have to offer.


That black base you see at the bottom of a task chair is not plastic – it’s call Nylon. We’ve written about this before.  While Plastic is not technically wrong, Plastic is generic. Nylon is the specific type of plastic that’s used.


If I had a nickel every time someone asked for ‘Chrome’ base….That shiny base you see attached to furniture can be one of two materials – Polished Aluminum or Chrome. This is important when it comes to pricing and aesthetics.


A drawer is a component within a storage or filing system, and should not be used when referring to the complete product. It can be a box, file, lateral etc. If storage is what you need – then look out for pedestals, cabinets & credenzas.


Low Pressure or High Pressure Laminate ? Another term incorrectly used to generalize work surface materials. Show and explain the differences between melamine, laminate and veneer. This is again useful when it comes to not only cost but functionality as well.


Do you really want a cabinet, or is it a credenza you’re looking for ? The word cabinet is incorrectly used as an umbrella term for credenzas, sideboards and pretty much any long storage unit. Traditional, the key difference between a credenza a cabinets are the absence of legs ; it goes all the way down to the floor. A credenza may also have just a central storage flanked by glass at the side for display purposes.

Manufacturing Time

What you need to convey correctly or ask is the Product Lead Time – the total time from the date of placing the order till the time it reaches the destination. This will include manufacturing as well as shipping time.
The manufacturing time only indicates how long it takes to manufacture the product ; it does not include the time taken to ship the product. Shipping time depends on the shipping channel – Land, Sea or Air. Accordingly, your lead time varies.

The Total Office provides work space solutions focusing on ergonomic and collaborative products that meet global environmental standards.

“Creating your work experience using ours”