Latest conference table trends for 2020

conference table trends 2020

Who knew there’d be a trend for conference tables, but the changing trends in work practices are having a knock-on effect in office furniture, and this includes conference tables. 

Integrated technology

Conferencing technology is getting more and more sophisticated. More companies are installing video conferencing facilities in their meeting rooms, as it allows them to organise face-to-face meetings without the need to spend lots of time travelling. AV facilities generally include digital screens, microphones and speakers, and sometimes have the addition of projectors and projector screens.

It is also now an accepted part of meetings for all those attending to bring their own devices (BYOD) to connect via WiFi, e.g. laptops, tablets or phones so they can take notes, project PowerPoint presentations, or do some research during the meeting. The more devices there are in the conference room, the more likely it is that at least one participant will need to plug something in. And from this, chaos can follow! With a conference table that is merely a table, the likelihood is that, as people need to charge their devices, and sometimes connect them to your AV equipment, the room will quickly become full of cables, and this can end in an untidy mess of wires trailing all over the place and causing trip hazards on the floor. 

That’s why there is a growing trend for conference tables that have integrated power sockets and control panels. If someone needs to plug in their device, they can keep the wires out of the way on the table top in order to minimise disruption. With an integrated AV system, your conference table can include space for a central control panel, which all devices can link with, and from where one person can easily control everything with minimal training. 

Having a conference table with integrated power points and panels means that you can easily, and tidily, cope with all your technology and attendee needs. 

Flexible room uses 

With space at a premium, companies need a flexible solution to help them cope with the need for different sized meeting spaces and the need to keep costs as low as possible. Many are opting for using removable wall dividers in larger spaces which gives them the option of having either one large conference room, or two or three smaller meeting rooms, depending on what’s needed at any one time.

The current trends in conference tables reflects this change in room use, with modular tables becoming more popular. They can be fitted together to fill a large space, or broken apart to be used in smaller groups, which gives companies the flexibility they need to organise meetings efficiently, but without wasting space. They can also be easily stored and relocated as many come on wheels. 

Modular conference tables can also be used in different formations to create a more interesting design for the main conference that’s appropriate for the type of meeting being held – using horseshoe, oval, circle or even octagonal shapes. 

TV’s most famous boardroom tables

boardroom table large open office

Your boardroom table is an important part of your office furniture. When clients visit your office, you will probably hold the meeting in your boardroom, so first impressions really do count!  

When it comes to boardrooms that you see in films and TV programmes, most things are exaggerated for effect, but that means they give a great insight into the way a table reflects the impression of the business and the company ethos. Here are a few examples: 

The Apprentice UK

The most famous boardroom table is the one the BBC’s Apprentice candidates sit round when they’re being grilled about their latest tasks. There is nothing on the table except water glasses and sometimes Lord Sugar’s notes, meaning that all the candidates have to rely on is their wits when defending their actions. In addition, the boardroom table is huge, distancing the candidates from Lord Sugar and his advisers with a physical barrier, making him an even more imposing figure. He also sits on a larger chair than even his advisers, which reflects his importance further. Whilst this may not be very helpful in the creation of relationships between the boss and his potential apprentice, it emphasises hierarchy and increases tension in order to make great TV! 

The Office US

Following the incredible success of Ricky Gervais’s The Office in the UK, the Americans created their own version set in the fictitious company of Dunder Mifflin. Some of the scenes were set around a cramped meeting room. The table was very small and had the appearance of lower-priced self-assembly furniture, with a light wood-effect veneer and tubular metal legs. It doesn’t give the impression of a strong company with solid foundations, rather one that just looks after basic needs and expects things, and by implication its people, to be easily replaced. 

Merlin

It was inevitable that King Arthur’s famous round table would make an occasional appearance in the TV series about the relationship between the wizard Merlin and King Arthur. Set makers built a solid wood table carved with inscriptions of Old English words to reflect Arthur’s strength and inclusiveness. The round table was a deliberate choice of King Arthur who wanted to promote a feeling of teamwork and equality, meaning none of his barons could claim precedence over each other because of where they were sitting. A completely different dynamic to that was promoted in the Apprentice boardroom.

Suits

Famous for one of its actors running away to England to marry a prince, Suits is a drama set in a top Manhattan law firm. The success of the firm meant the main characters all had big, impressive offices which were virtually large enough to house conference tables the size of most real-life company’s boardroom tables!  The Suits boardroom table was huge, wooden with a gold inlay and surrounded by sophisticated mesh back executive chairs, creating the impression of understated elegance. 

50 Shades of Grey

Grey Enterprises impressive boardroom with floor to ceiling windows created the perfect setting for Christian Grey’s office.  Although we didn’t see a lot of action in the boardroom (of a business nature), the boardroom table was modern and chic, with a thick glass surface which provided a sense of solidity and strength, and where powerful decisions were made.

Mad Men

The iconic TV series about the advertising industry in the 1960s was set largely in the office. While the boardroom and meeting room furniture had to reflect the furniture of the day, it had a surprisingly modern feel about it. A large wooden boardroom table sat in a spacious room which gave the impression of a solid, dependable company. The executive chairs that surrounded the boardroom table were large and comfortable, making participants feel looked after, as well as helping them feel more at ease – which is important when it comes to encouraging creative ideas. 

The UK Cabinet 

We often see PR photos of the Cabinet sitting around a table ready to begin their meetings. Even though the boardroom table is enormous, it needs to accommodate a lot of people which means individual space is always restricted, but it gives the impression that they will be working closely together. In photo opportunities, the Cabinet table is usually covered in protective green cloth, and everyone has place names, pens and folders. It projects an image of gravitas which makes us believe they are about to hold a meeting where everyone is determined to work hard – after all, the decisions they make affect us all and we want to see our leaders taking their responsibilities seriously.