Posted in materials on August 31, 2017 10:18 am EDT

Sitting Pretty

A look at 2017 seating from manufacturer Howe, as well as trends at large.

Howe's Usu table is a folding table that has a notable chair hanger function. Advantages include easy floor cleaning and better hygiene. All images courtesy of Howe.











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TAGS: education space, ff&e, furnishing, gathering space, interior design, seating, worship space,


By Keith Loria

“We can produce line drawings as well as different levels of visualizations from a no-content rendering up to a detailed full-content rendering.”

—Helle Rex, Marketing Manager, Howe

For almost 100 years, Danish furniture maker Howe has been supplying top seating solutions out of both its corporate office and its showroom in Chicago. And for years, architects and interior designers of sacred spaces have been impressed with—and specifying—the company’s offerings.

Helle Rex, marketing manager for Howe, sees some change and innovation coming to the seating market in 2017, with many of these trends carrying over into the church setting. She took some time to talk with Church Designer and share her insights.

Church Designer: What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in seating design that are translating over to churches leading into the New Year?

Rex: In general we see a growing need for flexible, multi-usage and space-saving furniture—stacking, folding and flipping—which enables congregations to use their spaces for multiple purposes: concerts, small group meetings, seminars, art exhibitions, or even yoga classes. The space-saving Howe furniture is creating value in many ways by allowing the optimal utilization of [a church’s] space. You can do more with the same, or less, space.

Church Designer: What’s your company’s main focus in trying to help churches save space?

Rex: Howe is a different company because we focus on what we do best and we do not try to be everything to everyone.

Church Designer: What new products will you be rolling out for 2017 and what makes them special?

Rex: We are in the process of designing a kneeler for the famous stackable 40/4 chair that matches the aesthetics of the 40/4 chair. These two products will complement each other and be a complete solution that can replace traditional pews and transform the church space into a flexible, multi-usage facility.

The original 40/4 chair graces Philadelphia Episcopal Church.

Church Designer: What products do you offer that architects, engineers and related consultants need to know about when planning their church designs?

Rex: First and foremost, our 40/4 chair is the obvious choice for churches undergoing the transformation into flexible, multi-usage spaces. But they should also know how we have products that support any other third spaces within the church community—the Manhattan soft seating modules … and then our entire table collection also has flexible and space-saving attributes. Our Usu table is a folding table that has the notable chair hanger function. It gives advantages such as easy floor cleaning, better hygiene and ergonomics compared to lifting and flipping chairs on the table.

Church Designer: What sort of design help can you offer your clientele?

Rex: We offer design assistance in the way of placing the furniture in the client’s space to verify capacity and show options. We can produce line drawings as well as different levels of visualizations from a no-content rendering up to a detailed full-content rendering.

Church Designer: What’s trending in finishes and materials on seating in the industry as a whole?

Rex: People are looking to move away from the clutter and wanting to simplify their space by using clean and timeless finishes. More neutral finishes and adding in the pops of color through accent pieces can help balance the overall design of a space.

Howe's Manhattan soft seating modules exemplify the company's focus on space-saving, flexible, multi-use seating. Manhattan modules work well in mix-and-matchable neutrals.

Church Designer: Which of these trends do you foresee carrying over to church worship or gathering spaces, and why?

Rex: With a strong presence of multi-usage spaces we anticipate [house of worship] moving away from the traditional finishes and looking to more modern, classic finishes that not just blend in with the architecture but enhance it.

Church Designer: What’s the most important thing that our readers should be aware of when planning seating choices in 2017?

Rex: The phrase “You get what you pay for” comes to mind. Focus on the lifetime of your seating, not just price. Quality-made seating that is classic and versatile offers a better return on your investment compared with the trendy, low-cost options that do not last as long.

[Editor's note: This piece was originally published in April 2017.]





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