This Company Makes Furniture Strong Enough to Survive 2020

The furniture business has changed, and so are the companies that make it.

 Chairs around a table

 Only Good Things

Grand Rapids, Michigan used to be known as Furniture City, with more than 40 big companies making mostly contract furniture at its peak. It's still home to the big contract and office furniture companies like Steelcase, Haworth, and Herman Miller, whose factories Treehugger toured a few years ago. Contract furniture, designed for offices and hotels, is usually strong and built to last; I am sitting at a 68-year-old Herman Miller desk and it's holding up just fine, and on a 10-year-old Herman Miller chair that looks brand new.

Chairs around round table
Only Good Things

The furniture is made with "sustainably harvested wood from northeastern American forests and US-sourced steel. Even more fitting for the times is that each piece is finished with an antimicrobial, commercial-grade topcoat, that can withstand even the toughest stains."

With people sitting in chairs and banging on tables at home all day long thanks to the pandemic and the working from home trend, commercial-grade furniture makes sense. It has all been commercially tested and comes with structural warranties, and will likely last forever.

Kitchen stool

Only Good Things

I have written before that offices are looking more like coffee shops and living rooms, and now homes are turning into offices, and I wondered if the contract market was dead. Dean Jeffery, the Creative Director of Only Good Things and Marketing Director of Grand Rapids Chair Co. told Treehugger:


chair stools and table

Only Good Things
"When the pandemic hit, it was amazing to see how quickly businesses adjusted to support work from home set-ups and arrangements, which resulted in people spending a lot more time in their houses. Since we’re such a visually driven generation, it makes sense that we’re seeing people invest in creating a space they love at home, one that feels welcoming, personable, and can act as an oasis."

The usual definition of sustainability is that it "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," which is why we like to show products that will actually last for generations. Unfortunately, not that many people are willing to pay the premium over IKEA for furniture that is made this way. It comes down to Globalism vs Grand Rapids, and I am rooting for the local, sustainable, and durable.

Lloyd  Alter, December 2020