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My favorite entry-level adjustable table provider, Stand Steady has adjustable tables from 23″ wide up to 92″ wide. They have a full range of monitor arms and media carts to help support your equipment.
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The first tables may have been logs on the ground, big rocks, or ledges in caves. As people began to stand upright to work, it was (and still is) very helpful to bring your work to a comfortable height. As we continued to grow, learn and implement new skills, tables have become a very useful tool.
Tables and Chairs
As our tools and cooking evolved, the need for tables grew and the standing height table was the most useful. The invention of chairs, in the ancient world, was not immediately used with tables. Chairs were used by the powerful to view the workers or to talk with each other. The very first chair was the ground and is still used by much of the world.
Artists and writers were early creators of adjustable tables and this helped position their work in a comfortable position. Consider old school architects, large, slant top desks, with an adjustable angle drawing board, flat document drawers, and pencil rails. Long rows of standing-height tables with angled drawing boards and cubby holes for rolled drawings, were what most of the modern built world used. Stools were introduced, and backs, arms, and wheels came later. Getting above your work to be able to look at the big picture was very important. Writers and accountants enjoyed standing and working on slant top tables as well. They had drawers to accommodate their equipment, and supplies and became to be known as desks.
Tables for production facilities, workshops, and food services were height adjustable with various mechanical support structures. Many metal and woodworking tables used height adjustment as a safety feature as well as comfort for the user. Tables used clamps to hold the material in place and then the powerful shaping tools safely machined the material into useful shapes and parts to assemble finished goods.
Desks for office work, managerial duties, and executive meetings were the standard for much of modern-day office work. The table was used for meetings and lunch rooms. The “table desk” was popularized by designer Florence Knoll as an elegant way to support drawings and color samples for work and meetings. When typewriters came along, the desk with drawers became even more popular and the “return” was created to form the “L”-unit desk. Tables with specialized drawers for paper files and office supplies were the backbone of the mid-century modern workplace.
With the popular use of personal computers for writing, accounting, drawing, and so many other functions our furniture had to adapt to the equipment supported. The “L”-unit desk could not support the large computer monitors and the corner unit was developed. The front edge bridged the two right-angle sides with a diagonal edge to set your keyboard with the user in front of the computer monitor that filled up the back corner.
With the computer monitor placed in the back corner of the desk and the keyboard along the front diagonal edge, things were lining up for long hours of sitting and keystroking. Adjustments had to be made to support the equipment, the body, and the work needed to be done. An adjustable keyboard tray was made to attach to the underside of the corner computer table and a height-adjustable base was developed to raise the monitor on the table to optimum eye level. Every part of office furniture became modular and the era of the cubicle was here. When the tables became worksurfaces that hung on fabric-covered panels with data/power cables running through them, everything was adjustable. The slotted panels supported worksurfaces and could be set at 1-inch intervals. The keyboard tray had free-floating, 4-way adjustable settings, and the chairs had multiple adjustments. Ergonomic health and workman’s compensation insurance justified almost every expense for adjustable office furniture.
Computers started to run production equipment with the invention of the Computer Numerical Controlled machines or C.N.C. machines. The material to be machined was placed on a table with rollers to make it easy to move, the CNC machines would position the material, hold it in place and then “Let the Machines Run”. These tables were not moving or adjusting and everything else was moving around them. The machined material was automatically moved to the next machine for the next stage of production until the finished product was packaged and labeled for shipping. Big, heavy, fast, and highly accurate modern production, with automated workflow through the facility and out to the shipping dock.
Large things become small again. Furniture needs to adjust to the equipment and work it supports. People have not changed very much over the last 1,000 years, but their work has, and in the early 2,000’s work has changed again. The use of small flat screens, wireless and mobile computers have allowed workers to set up shop, to get work done in many places. The Covid pushed many out of the office and to work from home. The office furniture stayed behind and the people still needed to get work done. Small, mobile equipment did not need large office furniture. The home needed small adjustable furniture that could be folded up and put away. One of my favorite table vendors is Stand Steady in Fairfax Virginia. They have a very broad offering of supportive tables, monitor arms carts, small storage, and fun chairs.
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