Studio furniture plays an important role in the operation of any
studio. While this passive component of the studio design serves as the
physical foundation for the equipment that will be used around it, it
is sometimes barely given more than a casual thought as to its design
The technology behind studio furniture may not seem sophisticated,
but the craftsmen behind the work can usually quote all kinds of
specifications pertaining to load tolerance, resistance to warping and
durability of materials. In the end, many manufacturers create a
quality product that will last for many years. Some details in
manufacturing materials are important to consider, but it is easy to
get lost in the specifications. A certain exotic material from some
distant land may seem like the perfect choice, but in the end, the
long-term durability is what matters most.
The most common material debate is between the use of plywood or
particle board. Those opposed to particle board cite that it crumbles
and warps too easily. This may be true of materials from several years
ago, but particle board materials today are manufactured to some of the
highest tolerances of any man-made material. Thicknesses are tightly
controlled to thousands of an inch. Plywood likewise is a quality
material, although the thickness tolerance is a little looser. It is
important to know that when particle board is used, it must be an
industrial-grade material and not an underlayment grade. Underlayment
grade will crumble when screws are used on it.
When a surface material is laminated, the coating must be applied to
both sides or the material will warp. By balancing the panel, the
absorption of moisture and stresses from use will affect both sides,
reducing the likelihood of warping.
A new addition to studio furniture designs is the use of
solid-surface materials for the countertop. Materials such as Corian
and Gibraltar provide a durable surface that is forgiving of scratches
and blemishes. A scratch can be removed by sanding and buffing the
area. The surfaces are strong and nonporous, which resist stains.
Larger sections can be custom formed to hide seams for a continuous
surface. Solid surfaces can also be cut into a variety of shapes
without the need for edge molding.
Two distinct paths
Most studio furniture can be classified as modular or custom. Custom
designs cost more and are manufactured to specific instructions. The
modular approach includes the classic cabinetry designs as well as the
One advantage to the modular cabinetry approach is that it usually
lends itself to easy furniture reconfigurations. The workstation
approach also has some modularity to it, typically providing several
basic pieces that can be arranged in various ways to create the final
design. Some applications may begin with a modular approach and then
customize it to fit a specific need.
Whether choosing a custom package or an off-the-shelf approach, the
end result can still look fabulous. When a studio project is started,
the furniture is one of the first items needed before installation can
begin. With custom choices and exotic materials typically comes a
longer manufacturing time.
The workstation designs offer a great deal of flexibility, and by
their design have an open look and feel. Conventional cabinet designs
will usually provide a stronger base to work from, but they also offer
an inherent wire management and power system that is hidden from view.
In addition, the cabinetry can usually provide a space for a punch
block connection panel or other wire distribution point.
Equipment cooling is an important consideration. While equipment
needs have changed, the largest producers of heat -- cart machines --
have almost completely disappeared. Instead, studios are being loaded
with more computers and computer monitors. In most cases, a passive
airflow will be sufficient to maintain an appropriate ambient
temperature. The addition of vents to rear panels can help. In some
cases, additional forced air may be necessary.
The bigger problem from the introduction of computer-based equipment
is noise. More and more equipment relies on cooling fans, which can be
a noise problem. If the computer must be placed within the studio, try
to place it as far away as possible from any open mics. The computer
can also be housed within the furniture, which will attenuate its
A showcase studio begins with the equipment foundation. The studio
furniture acts as a passive partner in this system. By making the right
choices today, this foundation will faithfully serve its purpose for
many years to come.
Selected manufacturers of studio furniture
Products offered: Expression, Delux, Radial, All Talk, DQS, Airshow,
Products offered: Edit Center, Multidesk, racks
Products offered: Quickline, Primeline, Smoothline, custom
Products offered: Preference, Eclipse, Tech Line
Products offered: Radius-XP, Modulux, custom
Products offered: Basis, custom
Products offered: Forte, Presto, Prostation, Force, custom
Products offered: Various modular systems
Products offered: Sound Choice, custom
| RAM Systems
Products offered: custom furniture, racks
Products offered: Imagemaster consoles, Modular Component consoles,
Products offered: Modular, Freeform, custom
|Murphy Studio Furniture
Products offered: Elegant Series
Products offered: Solutions
The furniture accessory
Equipment racks are just as important as studio furniture. Besides
the utilitarian factor of the steel rack, there are variations designed
to offer environmentally sealed uses or special sound isolation
functions. Here are some companies that offer equipment racks in
various designs that can complement a studio furniture decision.