Furniture vendors vie for support

Campus Center Project nears completion, college seeks student input for chairs and desks selection

By Brian Boyle, Staff Writer

College administrators hosted a demo for potential furniture to furnish the Campus Center and Classroom buildings being constructed on campus, on Monday in GA-40.

A committee of administration, faculty, staff and two student ambassadors viewed the demos from four different vendors, which showcased the furniture that will fill the new classrooms, staff and faculty offices and recreation areas in the new buildings.

Each vendor had 12 minutes to explain the benefits of their product line and then five minutes to answer questions.

Contra Costa Community College District senior buyer Ben Cayabyab urged the faculty present to choose durable equipment that would really work for them.

“In some demos I have jumped up and down on chairs,” Cayabyab said. “One vendor claimed I couldn’t break his chair, so I picked it up and smashed in on the ground.”

The four vendors each showcased their chairs and tables, and did their best to differentiate their products from their competitors.

“I told the vendors not to include price,” Cayabyab said. “I want the decision to be based on utility, comfort and reliability and not price.”

Steelcase was the first vendor, and spent the bulk of their presentation time demonstrating the utility of their Node Chair.

The Node Chair is a pod shaped desk and chair combo. It allows students to not only adjust what side of the desk they write on, but also allows them to swivel in a complete circle to listen to classmates or follow the professor as they walk around the room. The chair is also on wheels, allowing students to easily move the chair around to bunch up for group work or to circle around the room for presentations. The chair also has a storage area beneath it large enough for a backpack.

Steelcase’s design is likely to be at Contra Costa College whether they are chosen as the vendor or not. Two of the other vendors presented chairs virtually identical to the Node Chair, and the faculty present were seemed very excited about the Node Chair.

Student ambassador Andrew Almacen said, “I hate that (Node Chair). It’s uncomfortable, the desk is small and it’s completely impractical.”

Student ambassador Almas Amjad agreed.

Amjad said that the actual size of the desk was extremely important to students. She said it was important to be able to fit a notebook and a book or binder on the desk at the same time, which seemed like an impractical use of the limited space the Node Chair — type desks provided.

English professor Jeffrey Michels said he particularly like the sturdiness of the Node Chair. He made this declaration shortly after up-ending the Node Chair-esque design presented by Allsteel. Accessibility was also one of the major selling points for Steelcase’s Node Chair.

“I’m a big fellow, but I fit pretty easily in that chair,” Dr. Michels said. “Now, there are bigger fellows, but I think they’ll still fit.”

KI Furnishings presented the only desk and chair combo that was not designed like the Node Chair. The chair features a pyramidal base that could hold binders, notebooks and even included cup holders. Michels stood on one side of the desk with his whole weight and was unable to tip it.

KI also presented office equipment that excited fine and media arts professor Bonnie Holt. The KI faculty office storage solutions allows for one to access the above the desk storage whether they are seated or standing.