Posted in materials on March 9, 2016 4:40 pm EST

Take a Seat

New seating trends for worship and gathering spaces will tempt people to do just that.

Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., showcases auditorium seating by Sauder Worship Seating with a Clarity back, Vantage chairs in the choir area, and Plylok chairs in the band area on the platform.











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TAGS: design, ff&e, gathering space, seating, sustainability, worship space,


By Keith Loria

Sitting down in church has never been as complicated as it seems in 2016. Generally, there are just so many seating options today that churches aren’t sure what to do and architects and designers have a multitude of choices to work with.Ten or 20 years ago, there were limited materials and accessories; now, there are many more options, for seat material, fabric choices, and add-on options like tablet arms.

"We have seen a trend [when spec’ing chairs for a broadcast environment] to pick several complimentary colors randomly placed throughout the room to add depth and to make empty seats less noticeable."

—Robert Wiltsey, Director of Church Sales, Bertolini Inc., Chino, CA

There is also a bit of an increase towards flexible seating that can be easily removed from the worship space since many churches are using the sanctuary not only as a worship space but a space where other activities can be held throughout the week. For example, flexible seating such as Oaklok and Vantage are manufactured to be stackable and can be interlocked together to easily create straight or curved rows.

That’s nothing new, however. Robert Wiltsey, director of church sales for Bertolini Inc. in Chino, Calif., says the trend for the past decade and a half has been to remove pew seating and replace it with interlocking individual seats that are upholstered and stackable 8-10 high.

“This is especially useful in venues where the sanctuary floor is flat and enables the sanctuary to double as a conference room or banquet room,” he says. “There are a number of larger churches that install theatre seating in the balcony and stackable seating on the main floor.”

Cutting edge pews?

Amanda Opdycke, worship market manager for Sauder Worship Seating in Archbold, Ohio, notes that what the company does differently with pews is the implementation of a contoured back and seat. “Whether an all-wood or upholstered pew is selected, all of the seats incorporate a contoured seat,” she says. “The foam used in pews includes a curve that follows the contour of the seat. This mimics the natural contour of the back and legs of the person sitting, which provides an additional level of comfort.”

Sauder Worship Seating | Radiance curved pews; St. Francis of Assisi, Triangle, Va.

Sauder Worship Seating also offers Radiance curved pews, a curved pew that’s designed to help create a sense of community within the sanctuary.

Technology & add-ons

Andy Forsberg, a manager at the Wenger Corp. in Owatonna, Minn., notes that seating trends are very subjective since some architects and consultants prefer certain styles that they tend to stick with from project to project.

“There have been some technology-related changes; aisle lighting is a good example. As in other industries, we’re seeing a big shift toward LED lighting rather than filament lighting, whether recessed in-arm, or beacon-style,” he says. “LED lighting is more energy-efficient and longer-lasting. And while we’re seeing a movement toward LED lighting, we still offer both.” Fabrics are always changing as well, both in the popular styles and available materials.

“There are a lot more stain- and moisture-resistant materials being used today,” Forsberg says. “There are different styles of hymnal holders, whether netted pocket or built-in wooden holders. We’re also seeing a general shift toward more durable materials, both in fabrics and plastic-type materials for seat back, bottom and arm rest. However, wood construction is still very popular for worship spaces.”  continued >>