Terminology - A-Z of Office Furniture

Updated: May 2, 2019

Confused about your office refurbishment? We've put together a list of know-how jargon to help you get what you want, HOW you want it. If we're missing something, send us a message at hello@balanceinteriors.com.au and let us know - we're always happy to help.

Without further ado, prepare to have your mind blown, and your vocab excelled:

A = Accessible

We use this term when we are referring to commercial spaces.  The space needs to be accessible to those with disabilities. 

A = Acoustics

Acoustic foams and sound panels are installed to reduce noise pollution as they remove echoes and background sounds not by blocking sound, but by absorbing it. They control reverberation sounds, to make usually loud spaces with elements like concrete or wooden floors and brick walls become quieter, allowing it easier to hear each other speak, or hear yourself think e.g. cafe's, schools, welcome areas. Options can include tiles, ceiling clouds, ceiling baffles, paintings and screens.


Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute Limited (AFRDI) is an independent organisation that tests commercial furniture for safety and durability. For a more detailed description, check out our blog on the subject here.

A = Agile Work Space

A blend of creativity, collaboration and science; they’re environments that are space efficient, productive, and vibrant. Want more? Check out this cool infographic

B = Basic Tilt Mechanism

Basic tilting mechanism used in office chairs is where the seat, armrests and backrest are one piece. When you lean back the whole chair tilts. It is therefore not possible to move the seat and back independently of each other.

B = Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is something you will see more of in the months and years to come. In a nutshell? It's bringing outdoor elements indoors to utilise nature and the benefits of calming us down to the core. As we spend more time at work and indoors, our connection with nature and its stress relieving benefits are diminishing, but research has shown by introducing woodwork, stonework, water features, outdoor views and plants into the office, we create a HUGE impact on stress levels and productivity of the modern city based worked. Find more HERE.

C = Chamfered

It’s easy to overlook the finishing touches, the fine details, the trim. But just as a good belt completes a classy outfit, a piece of furniture is made all the more swank when it has edges that are beveled or chamfered. The word chamfer, while seemingly just a fancy word that means the same thing as beveled, more typically refers to a sort of vertical bevel, i.e. the cut off corners of a chair or table leg.

C = Collaborative Space

Collaborative spaces today mean more than just a conference or meeting room where you host the Monday meeting. They are now spaces that utilise furniture that is maneuverable, customizable, flexible and durable enough to withstand being pushed and pulled into various shapes to allow fluid communication and synergy among employees on a daily basis.

D = Drafting Chair

A drafting chair is essentially a normal ergonomic chair with a couple modifications. The main one? The cylinder gas lift is elongated, meaning the seat can go higher than standard chairs. This is usually accompanied by an elevated foot ring to rest your feet on.

E = Eclectic

A design term that categorizes spaces mixing various design styles, periods, trends, textures, trends, and colors.

E = Elevation

This is an architectural drawing term used to refer to a line drawing.  It's basically a 2D drawing that details one wall, or one view of your space, that is drawn to scale, meaning you can understand the size of each piece involved.

E = Ergonomics

Ergonomics is quite simply the study of how people and their tools interact; so ergonomic designed furniture is created with the intention of supporting the end user to become more productive, supported (physically), and comfortable as they go about the tasks associated with their office-based role.

F = Functionality

Simply put, it is "the ability to perform a task or function, or set of functions that something is able or equipped to perform." Commercial interior furniture is designed to prioritize functionality and safety without sacrificing style or aesthetics, with the benefit of being durable for an extended lifetime of use.

G = Greenery

Lending from Biophillic design, greenery refers to plant life (real or fake) within the office or attached out-door environment.

G = Gymba

The Gymba Activeboard allows you to mimic walking postures while you sit and stand at your desk. It's an active tool that's offered to increase circulation and activate your legs, back, and core muscles for a healthier way of working.

H = High Back

High backs are those of our chairs that offer spinal support up to 470mm. Our version, Galaxy, features a 3 lever fully ergonomic mechanism to easily adjust heights and a manual back lock. 

I = Installation

A service we offer on any job; big or small.

I = Is it time for another coffee yet?

J = Joinery

A joiner is an artisan who builds things by joining pieces of wood, particularly lighter and more ornamental work than that done by a carpenter, including furniture and the "fittings" of an office. Joinery often refers to frame or panel construction in the commercial interiors business, but can also be reference to the intricate woodwork of furniture. While it's not a primary service offering, is something we can help you out with!

K = Kronos

Kronos is our entry level, height adjustable task chair featuring a moulded seat to ensure comfort for the duration of your day.

L = Laminate

A term usually used incorrectly to generalize work surface materials. To learn more, ask our experts to explain the differences between melamine, laminate and veneer. This is again useful when it comes to not only cost but functionality as well.

L = LED Lighting

LED lighting also decreases strain and can help boost energy with clever timers that we can install to replicate the changes that occur naturally in the space of the day. It will also reduce your overall energy bills, but that's a different story, for a different blog post.

L = Lumbar Support

Chairs of this type often feature a back and seat that is structured to promote proper alignment of the lower back and relieve stress on the muscles. These chairs are extremely beneficial at providing support for people who spend the majority of their work day at a desk.

M = Monitor Arms

Designed to lift laptops or screens from desk height, to eye level in a bid to create a straighter spine and less pain in the neck and upper back from straining.

N = New Hartford

The New Hartford is a modern seater lounge, made in Australia. It has been designed as a commercial, high quality seating solution with customisable fabric in one or two-tone colouring options.

N = No, we're not done yet.

O = Occasional Furniture

Occasional furniture refers to small pieces of movable furniture that can be put to varied uses as the occasion demands. Examples are visitor chairs, ottomans, coffee tables, standing lamps, or side tables.

O = Office Accessories

A little outdated, this is often a term that we hear that can relate to monitor arms, foot stools, desk risers, white/cork/black boards, gymba

O = Ottoman

An ottoman is a form of couch which has no head or back, though sometimes it has one or the other. As a rule it is what upholsterers call "overstuffed"—that is to say no wood is visible, and can be used in open spaces like libraries and welcoming rooms as a stool, footstool, or alternative to a sofa.

P = Permenant Contact

Permanent contact task chair mechanism (back tilt) makes it possible to move the backrest forward and backward. The seat is not tiltable independently of the back-rest.

P = Perspective

This is a 3D drawing of one view of your space.  Perhaps due to an intricate ceiling structure, or built-in joinery or customised furniture that needs to be showcased.  Though not to scale, the perspective drawing is the best way to give you a look at what the completed space will feel like with relativity to volume of each piece, the walls and surrounding feature.

P = Phone Booth

A type of soft furnishing, the ever-popular phone booth is a customizable option for an open space that allows privacy to the user in a standing environment. Check out one of our options HERE

P = Pierced and Perforated

We'll give you not one, but three terms here, as pierced furniture may also be called perforated or openwork. Any furniture or decor object can non-ironically be called pierced when it has one or more decorative openings purposely carved through it. (Sorry, those unintentional holes in your sofa don’t count.) Sometimes furniture will have one piercing, as in these chairs. When a piece has many piercings that form a complex design, it's often described as having an openwork design. A piece with lots of small pierced holes can be described as perforated.

Q = Quotes

While making a decision on a new office fit-out is a BIG decision, we can help ease your mind, and talk you through the options available with our obligation FREE quoting service. Tell us what you want, and we'll find it for you!

R = Re-Fit

A 're-fit' is basically industry slang for creating a new environment or workspace within an existing one. It usually will encompass changes created by a qualified architect, designer and team of builders, and result in functional and aesthetic changes to the floors, ceilings, walls, furniture, electronics, lighting conditions and more.

R = Rendering

Is a word to describe a drawing that we can add color, texture, or imagery to in order to make it appear more life like.  The word render means “to change,” so we have changed your elevation, perspective, or floor plan into a visually stunning piece that really sets up the picture for you.

S = Sit-To-Stand

Sit-To-Stand desks are designed to allow the user a more balanced approach to going about their office duties to stay more energised, and therefore, productive. Options may be hand wound, portable table-top options, or electronic systems that have built in features like user memory so you can click a button and it will automatically adjust to your programmed heights. To get the best usage out of your sit-to-stand, we can send in our friendly team of furniture expert, or in-house osteopath for a one-on-one training session.

S = Schematics

Schematic drawings are drawn up in the initial planning stages of an office fit-out or refurbishment, usually by an architect or project manager, in the form of a drawing. It helps people to understand and show details of how something is put together and operates. This is highly beneficial for all parties involved in the process of a restructure.

S = Synchronous Mechanism

The synchronous mechanism (synchro tilt) in your gas lift task chair, combines a movement of the backrest and a corresponding smaller movement of the seat at a 2:1 ratio. The movement of the backrest is thereby larger than the movement of the seat.

T = Tambour Unit

Tambour units are a great storage option for tight spaces, as their doors are usually on rollers that allow them to open horizontally or vertically without encroaching on additional space. They can be made in a variety of colours and from varying materials such as wood or steel.

U = Upholstery

Upholstery is the work of providing furniture, especially seats or couches, with padding, springs, webbing and fabric or leather covers.

U = Upright Trainer

A discreet postural trainer that sits between your shoulder blades, and vibrates to tell you when you begin slouching. It works by connecting to an app, and training your back muscles to become stronger while seated or standing.

V = Veneer

Ancient Roman woodworkers figured out that you could simply cut thin strips of a fancy wood, and glue them to the surfaces of furniture made of cheaper woods to create an appealing look-a-like at a lower price. It's a great option if you're on a budget, but want a high-class finish.

V = Visual and Display Boards

Think whiteboards, chalkboards and corkboards; anything you can use as a visual display within the office or boardroom environment to prove a point, offer inspiration, or create a mind-map.

W = Weight Controlled Chairs

An adjustable weight controlled mechanism which increases or decreases back and seat tilt resistance. This ensures that the backrest reclines smoothly when you lean back.

W = WELL Certification

Heard of it? Check out our blog HERE to read our full definition.

W = Workstations

Historically referring to a high-powered computer that is used for work, the modern 'workstation' we often refer to is actually an individualised area, usually in an office, outfitted with equipment and furnishings for one worker which usually includes a computer. Today's workstations need to be highly adjustable, incorporate ergonomic design and have functionality for a range of office duties and roles.

X = Executive Chairs

Ok, we didn't have an 'X'. Executive chairs, are another pet name for meeting or boardroom chairs that are usually made of leather, and incorporate ergonomic factors like a synchro-mechanism, great lumbar support (lower back), a head and arm rests. The benefit is that they can be easily switched out of the CEO's office, to your corner booth or boardroom with ease, and feel like you're in a Lazyboy-lounger. Bliss. Executive chairs sit lower than average task chairs, and have a smaller gas lift.

Y = Yelp

Have we done a job that you LOVED? Share the love, and review us on Yelp so we can reach more people, and they can hear about what we have done for you!

Y = You're ALMOST THERE>>>

Z = Zillions

Yep you read right, we offer zillions of options for you next interior spaces renovation! Check out our products online, or contact us on (03) 9761 4555 and ask us for a face to face service call and quote.

Z = Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Alright, you can give your brain a rest now.

If you're not sure what we are talking about when we're dropping commercial furniture lingo left, right and centre; let us know. We're here to make the big projects easier, and that means making sure you're clued up on 100% of the journey; from A-Z.

Wishes in wellness,

The Balance Team

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