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Big Name Brands vs. "The Others": Is There a Difference?

If you’re looking to buy a new car, you could go with a luxury model from well-known brands like Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz or Land Rover. But if you go with a high-end auto manufacturer, you’ll spend tens of thousands of dollars more than if you went with a mainstream vehicle brand. Sure...luxury cars are nice, but are they really worth the money?

Some would say yes. But just about everyone would agree that you can get a good quality car without the posh name for a fraction of the cost—right?

The same logic that applies to high-end automobiles also applies to products in other markets, including commercial office furniture. From Haworth to Herman Miller, lots of high-end brand name options are available for businesses. But what are you really getting besides a name?

And if you shop with the “other” brands, are you still getting the quality you want from your investment?

Choosing a furniture supplier for your business is a big decision. Let us help you sort the differences between the big brands and the others so you can make the right choice for your company.

Choosing the right supplier: factors to consider

Purchasing new commercial office furniture is a significant investment. Whether you’re furnishing your first office space or reimagining a well-loved space, you want to maximize the value of your purchase. Doing so means considering several factors, such as:

  • Aesthetics and brand identity. The furniture and design choices you make influence the personality of the space and your brand identity, which contributes to the impression you make on customers and stakeholders alike.
  • Quality and lifespan of the furniture. Of course you want quality furniture that lasts. Ask your supplier about the furniture’s warranty—that’ll give you a clue as to its lifespan. For example, an office chair with a five-year warranty should last approximately seven to eight years, while a chair with a 10-year warranty has a lifespan of between 12 to 15 years. Aim for desking and systems selections that offer a limited lifetime warranty. If having your furniture made in the USA is a consideration, there are a wide variety of manufacturers available.
  • Budget and cost. How much do you need, and how much can you afford? You may already have a budget for your office design or remodel project. If not, use an online planning tool to get estimates of cost per square foot or cost per employee, or consult our in-house experts. Connecting Elements often recommends starting at the end and working your way backwards, meaning start with knowing what you would have if you could “shoot for the stars.” Compare that to the budget you’re working with and trim off the extras that are less important until you meet both goals.

Each of the above factors is an important consideration in determining what furniture should outfit your office. However, once you make a purchase and your new furniture is installed in your office space, people aren’t likely to wonder what brand name the chairs are or how much you spent.

What will matter is whether or not your office furniture and interior design have the flexibility and functionality to make each day run smoothly for your employees, customers and visitors.

So before you buy, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does the furniture meet the needs of my business?
  • Will I be paying for a quality product with top quality service, or the brand name?
  • Is the “best” name brand really the best choice for my business?

Who are the big name brands?

Some big name brands in office furniture have become so popular, they’re iconic.

  • Herman Miller has built a reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality modern furniture. Famous for the ergonomic Aeron office chair, it and many of the Herman Miller collections blend minimalist design with comfort and functionality.
  • Knoll, known for the Barcelona chair, uses a research-based approach to design furniture created to solve problems. Established in 1938, the Knoll Furniture Company was heavily influenced by Bauhaus design philosophy, and that modernist influence carries into its contemporary designs.
  • Haworth employs skilled artisans to craft furnishings from wood, leather and textiles. The resulting mix of materials, textures and colors brings warmth to otherwise utilitarian pieces. Haworth’s collections embody classic and contemporary design with adaptable furniture systems that can evolve as businesses’ needs change.
  • Steelcase offers workspace furniture systems that combine aesthetics and practicality with elegant designs and built-in technology supports. Many Steelcase products can be stand-alone pieces or combined with other office furnishings to create versatile systems.

What are the “other” options?

Alternative vendors may not have the name recognition of the big brands, but they do have high quality products and superb customer service. Here are two of hundreds of reputable open-line manufacturers that can likely exceed your office furnishing needs.

  • AIS manufactures top-tier office furniture systems, benching, desking, and seating with a focus on their award-winning lean manufacturing and creative ingenuity. AIS gives its customers the option to place custom orders that are manufactured on demand, often in 10 working days. Its product lines include interchangeable components that can be mixed and matched to create an upscale modern look, and can installed quickly, which reduces your overall costs and decreases downtime for your business.
  • AIS’s Oxygen benching system is a popular choice for small businesses that want an open-office concept that’s aesthetically pleasing and practical. The multi-functional system accommodates technology needs and is well-suited for collaboration.

  • Global Furniture Group lives up to its mission of aiming to build affordable, well-made office furniture available worldwide. From tables to desking to storage, Global’s products are designed for space efficiency and sophistication. Clean lines create a simple but pleasing aesthetic, and the range of geometric shapes and colors makes customization a breeze.
  • Global’s Bungee tables are a favorite due to their inherent versatility. The table tops and legs come with bungee cords so they can be quickly reconfigured to suit a business’s changing needs, from large-group conferences to small-group collaboration. The Bungee tables are also collapsible for easy storage or transport.

With their wide range of options, open-line suppliers can be compelling alternatives to the high price tags of brand-name manufacturers.

Why should you consider choosing an open line for your furniture needs?

You can find everything you need to furnish your office space from open-line manufacturers. Here’s what you can expect from working with our big-brand alternatives.

Quality furniture

The big name brands don’t have a monopoly on office furniture—although it may seem like that when you start your search for a supplier. You don’t have to compromise on quality if you go with an alternative vendor. Spend your budget on well-made, durable furniture that fits your company’s style and aesthetic as well as the practical needs of your day-to-day operations.

Fair prices

While it’s true that the big name brands produce quality office furnishings, they also charge a premium for one primary reason: because they can. Name recognition alone allows these big brands to inflate their prices without increasing the quality of their products or their customer service.

With affordable prices, you’ll get more bang for your buck. Your budget will go a lot further when you’re not paying for a brand name for the sake of the name alone.

Better service

When you buy office furniture from a supplier, you’re getting more than just desks and chairs: you’re forming a professional relationship with another company. Just like with any other relationship, you and your supplier could be a perfect match—or you could be completely incompatible.

For small and mid-size companies, ordering from the big brands of the office furniture world comes with a possible downside. These brands know that, as a small or mid-size business, your purchasing power may have limits. What may very well be a significant investment to you is proverbial peanuts compared to what their other accounts spend. As a result…you may not get the service you deserve.

Many large companies also choose to go the route of an alternative furniture supplier. No matter how big or small your order is, you deserve the best level of customer service. A smaller name is able to offer you personalized service with a focus on meeting your company’s particular needs.

Explore your options

Selecting office furniture is a big decision. Want to learn more about your options? Contact our team of designers to discuss available options to fit your space, brand and budget. Just fill out our online form or give us a call at 844.235.3636.



Download this free comparison, and find out if AIS is a good fit for your company.

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