Conference rooms today serve a broader purpose than they did prior to the advent of the digital age. In the last 30 years, technology has transformed from bulky CRT monitors to high powered mobile laptops. Chalkboards gave way to smart white boards and overhead projectors were replaced by six-foot flat screen monitors in the training or board room. Cloud computing facilitated the transfer of large amounts of data we share from anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic changed where we work and learn. Technology enables us to work from home or at the office or learn from the living room or the school room. The new normal is hybrid meetings, where some colleagues participate remotely through virtual meetings, or physically at the office or school, or a combination of both virtual and physical presence.
The need for custom and collaborative workspaces has remained constant in conference rooms. The office conference table has emerged as the 21st century communications hub. Specifically, SMARTdesks’ custom conference tables foster the flexible requirements to function as a boardroom, a conference room, a training room and a hybrid work and learning center.
SMARTdesks, founded in 1997, recognized the need to integrate computers into the surface of the desk to make it SMART, ergonomic, and integrated with power and data. Through design and research in collaboration with customers’ missions, needs and problems, SMARTdesks emerged as the industry leader for custom conference table innovation. To understand everything, you might want to know about conference tables, here is some information about conference table specifics.
What Is the Importance of a Conference Table?
Finding the right conference table for your needs is incredibly important. A conference table ensures smooth and productive meetings, empowers collaboration, and sets the tone for your conference room experience. Conference tables yield other important benefits.
- Having your own dedicated conference table precludes the need to book a location for your business meetings. You maintain total control to meet when you want without the hassle and expense of renting a conference room located off site. Your own custom conference table will be built with your specific room in mind to accommodate your attendees and the technology needed to collaborate, share information and learn.
- Your own conference table can provide flexibility you simply won’t get going somewhere else. Not in an official meeting? Use the conference room as a workspace. Need to ensure you can physically distance following health protocols? Choosing a table that creates extra space via modular parts makes it easy to do so.
- A high-quality conference table can increase the stature and first impression of your organization and your clients. What does the look of your conference table convey? Does it say “professional, attention to detail, and practical,” or “half-hearted, lackluster, unprofessional?” At SMARTdesks, we believe your conference table should be a reflection of your values. That means every conference table is custom-made to match your organization’s multi-faceted requirements. Creating your perfect conference table makes work more productive and pleasurable. Your employees and customers will feel engaged with the expectations of your organization.
- Having a dedicated space that accommodates many people promotes a culture of inclusion and collaboration. When everyone has a literal seat at the table, good things happen.
- As an element of interior design, your conference table impacts your entire space. Some studies have shown that intentional and quality interior design boosts employee satisfaction and productivity.
What Are the Types of Conference Tables?
There are several types of conference tables. Typically, people use size, materials, and shape to describe conference table types. Some common conference table sizes include:
- 8 feet long
- 10 feet long
- 12 feet long
12-foot conference tables are the most popular size for a single conference table. Regardless of the size you need, or the number of seats at the conference table, SMARTdesks' design team will collaborate with you to create the perfect conference table for your space.
Moving on to materials, some of the most common conference tables are made from:
At SMARTdesks, we build our conference tables using only the highest quality materials including hardwood, veneer, laminates, thermofoils with an aesthetic range of edge treatments. In most cases, wood conference tables are the number one choice for customers.
While size and material differentiate a conference table, another factor is shape. Here are some common shapes among conference tables.
Rectangular conference tables have two shorter equal sides and two longer equal sides. Rectangular conference tables convey a sense of traditionalism and hierarchical organization. For many people, when they imagine a conference table, the first thing they picture is a rectangular surface in the middle of a boardroom…and for good reason.
A rectangular conference table establishes the head of the table or leader of the meeting. They can sit or stand at the short end of the table and address the group, while the rest of the participants lean in to clearly see and hear them. A rectangular table projects a sense of power and order. However, a rectangular, traditional conference table might not be the best idea for brainstorming or collaborative work.
U-Shaped tables are completely open on one end and create a space between the sides of the table. U-Shape conference table designs are often modified into a V-Shape conference table, and transmit a similar feel to the traditional rectangular table. The geometry of the U-Shape design directs the attention of participants toward the open end of the table during presentations utilizing projectors, large screen tvs, white boards, or other visual aids. With a U-Shape design, everyone can clearly see the presenter and their visual aids. An additional benefit of having a V or U-Shape table is that the leader or presenter can easily access everyone around the table. The presenter can comfortably walk down the alleyway in the middle of the table. They can easily pass out papers, take questions, or talk to specific individuals. U-Shape conference tables provide the sense that your organization works collaboratively and is data-driven.
A boat-shaped conference table is similar to a rectangular table but with two long bowed sides and two square short ends. Imagine the shape of a rowboat. The table is wider in the middle than at each end. While a boat shape can provide some of the same benefits as a rectangular table (like a clear head of the table or leader), it promotes a more collaborative feel.
The curved edges on a boat-shaped table give participants better access to the folks on their left and right while maintaining a clear line of sight with the head of the table and those across from them. The boat shape encourages group participation and teamwork, while maintaining the hierarchy, order, and authority of a traditional conference table.
Since the days of King Arthur, round conference tables democratize the participation of the group, unlike rectangular tables. With no head of the table or presentation at the front of the room, round conference tables help everyone feel equal, involved, and included and improve critical thinking or collective problem-solving. A round conference table or oval shape encourages gatherings of small groups and teams. They are great for brainstorming, collaboration, and intimacy.
Keystone conference tables are multi-functional. A keystone table is shaped like a trapezoid with one set of parallel sides, a shorter head of the table, and a longer end of the table. While keystone tables can be used for a wide range of purposes, they excel at videoconferencing. A typical video call setup would place the camera and screen at the narrower end of the table. Everyone at the conference table has a clear line of sight to the video screen and the camera captures everyone in the live feed. The popularity of keystone tables for hybrid work and videoconferencing is due to its adaptability. Your organization will convey forward-thinking, and tech-savvy innovation with Keystone conference tables.
If you have a multi-purpose conference space that reconfigures from classroom to boardroom to workspace or collaborative and active learning environments, consider the versatile modular conference table. The concept of a modular conference table is similar to the concept of modular sofas, where each element (module) is interchangeable with another. Similarly, each module can function as a piece of furniture on its own or can be combined with other modules to create a bigger, more customized piece of furniture.
For example, a modular conference table might consist of eight 5’ x 2’ tables. For a board meeting, you could set up a rectangular arrangement three tables long on either side with one table at each end. For a creative and collaborative workspace, you might create four pods consisting of two tables each to mimic the experience of a more intimate round table. If you need to set up for a presentation or training, you might decide to arrange the modules in a U-Shape or even in rows.
Modular conference tables flexibly increase the versatility of a room and amplify the functionality of each individual modular table.
Triangular conference tables share many of the qualities of a round conference table by reinforcing the collaborative and inclusive gathering style. Triangular conference tables work well for hybrid meetings, team projects and video conferencing. Participants seated along each leg of the triangle can work solo or collaborate with the group. Triangular conference tables can also be created from flexible single modules that are joined together.
Everything we have discussed up to this point applies to both prefabricated, stock, on-the-floor-model conference tables and customized pieces. It could apply to an oval conference table or a custom artisan table. They all have pros and cons, but ultimately, their function is to bring people together.
If there are so many conference tables to choose from, how do you find the best conference table to suit your specific needs and budget? How do you integrate computers, technology, power and data, specifically for your conference room? Who can help you configure the space, accommodate the number of people, the seating, the visualization and access and the design to fulfill your mission from concept to reality? SMARTdesks is your total solutions provider who has answered these questions for over 25 years.
SMARTdesks: A Better Conference Table
What differentiates SMARTdesks from the competition is our commitment to innovation and customer service.
SMARTdesks acts as the hub in a wheel connecting all the stakeholders in your organization, your IT advisors, your architects and interior designers, and the people within your organization who will take a seat at the table. There are so many details to consider when creating the perfect conference room. No one has all the answers but SMARTdesks will help you ask the right questions so we together can manufacture the best conference table.
Our products are top-tier and cutting-edge. Our process is consultative and collaborative. We listen to your needs and purpose. We design and build products that work for you. The SMART in SMARTdesks means more than “a desk or table that you can raise and lower.” Every detail, from the design, the durability, the integration of connectivity, is engineered, meticulously executed and customized to suit your specific requirements. To give you a better idea of what SMARTdesks conference tables can offer you, let’s break down our products and our process further.
SMARTdesks Conference Table Products
SMARTdesks conference tables are completely custom built in the USA on an order-by-order basis. Whether you want a 10-person conference table or a small conference table, we will fabricate any size or shape to suit your needs. What makes our conference tables unique is how we integrate technology into the table. Let’s discuss our patented flipIT® hardware system.
flipIT® Concealed Monitor Mounts
flipIT hardware converts a conventional work surface into a multi-use conference table. The flipIT mechanism rotates flat screen monitors from the underside of the table to a semi-recessed position. The user accesses the semi-recessed screen which yields a clear line of sight across the room. Depending on the needs of the participants, computers can be easily stowed away or rotated into use. flipIT®hardware transforms classrooms and conference rooms into multi-purpose environments. Select the various flipITLock options to secure your Data and equipment. In Health Care or Legal settings where confidentiality is paramount, flipIT hardware makes your conference table HIPAA compliant. Already have a conference table but need to upgrade? flipIT Kit mechanisms easily retrofit into existing conference tables. A complete set of templates and instructions are included with every flipIT Kit. SMARTdesks can supply a qualified installer, or our engineers can advise you on the best practices for installation.
Connectivity and Wire Management
SMARTdesks organizes your conference room with clutter free wire management and power and data ports to meet all your conferencing needs. Our flipIT Laptop safe also provides charging stations for all your devices and mobile phones so you are ready to work at any time. SMARTdesks personnel are trained to help you choose the connectivity cable management boxes and plug-ins so that your IT department can do its job effectively.
We will manufacture your conference table featuring fully integrated power to multiple devices where you want them. In consultation with your IT professionals, we will engineer and configure data connectivity and cable management specific to your needs. Additionally, we can provide and install our SMARTflor, raised access computer floor tiles to bring power and data into your conference room and directly to your table or multiple locations. We design the SMARTflor layout for your room and table and we offer hundreds of attractive carpet colors and patterns too.
What Are Some of Our Conference Tables Called?
SMARTdesks Conference Table Product Lines include Piatto, Piano Solo, and Piano Duet conference tables. Each of these product lines present conference tables in a multitude of sizes, shapes, finishes and options which you select in collaboration with our design and engineering staff to build your custom conference table. Each product line addresses different room sizes, the number of people it can accommodate and the mission of your organization.
Piatto conference tables resemble traditional conference tables and can be of any size to accommodate small to large groups of people. They can be configured to your preference with computer, AV, mobile device connectivity and flipIT hardware. The Piatto Conference table can be designed to meet both contemporary or traditional styles. We offer the Piatto in premium laminate with either PVC or hardwood edges, or wood veneer with solid wood edge treatment and plenty of colors and finishes to choose from.
Piano product lines include the Piano Solo and the Piano Duet. Each of these products are based on a triangular shape or a diamond shape. Piano Solo, the triangular shaped conference table, can be sized to fit 5-11 people while Piano Duet can accommodate 10-18 team members. The large team sits at a diamond shaped conference table. The broad center span encourages team participation and fosters inclusive collaboration. Both the Solo and Duet are built with a spacious technology well under a strut (triangular-shaped hatch) in the center of the table to assist with connectivity and cable management. The well can stow computer equipment, conference phones, cameras and all your AV control devices. The lids sit flush on the table but open for easy access to organize and configure your electronics without crawling under the table. Participants have clear lines of site across and down the table as well as great wall visualization for hybrid meetings.
If you are creating a multi-purpose conference room we also recommend:
The SMARTdesks Process
The SMARTdesks Team understands that designing and building a custom conference table is a collaborative process. We listen to what you want to accomplish in your conference room to define the needs and mission of your organization before recommending a specific conference table. SMARTdesks works for you from Concept to Reality to include state of the art connectivity, engineering design and construction. We listen to your budget requirements, and we build economy and efficiency into the process and final product. You can request designs or quotes, and you can make a direct inquiry for a custom conference table through our integrated design services.
In an effort to guide you in your research about Conference tables, we share some answers to a number of common questions we often hear:
How Big Should Conference Tables Be?
Room dimensions will influence the size of the conference table. The number of people sitting at the table is also a factor. The conference table with chairs must fit comfortably in the room to allow ADA accessibility and aesthetic proportions. The intention and purpose of the Conference room is another factor that determines the style and size of the conference table.
How Big Is a Conference Table for 6 People?
Conference table size for 6 people can range from a 5’ diameter circle to a 5’x 6’ rectangle. A 5’ diameter round conference table will comfortably accommodate 6 people and will fit in many room sizes. The Piatto conference table, rectangular in shape, or the Piano Solo, the triangular shaped conference table are excellent choices for 6 people.
How Do You Size a Conference Room Table?
Here is a checklist of questions to ask your team as you research your conference room furniture:
- What is the maximum number of people who will sit at the table?
- What are the room dimensions?
- What is the mission and purpose of the conference room?
- Will the activities in the room include Hybrid and/or combined Virtual meetings?
- Will the conference room serve as a training room too?
- Will the room serve as a private meeting space?
- What are the connectivity requirements to serve the conference room?
- Do you need a lectern or podium for training in the conference room?
Our trained team of engineers and designers will ask you these and many other questions as part of the collaborative process that will ultimately determine the size and shape of your conference room table.
How Much Space Does Each Person Need at a Conference Table?
Ergonomics determines the space each person needs at a conference table. The minimal optimum space occupied by an individual at a desk or table is 28 inches. Depending on the type of chairs, executive, task, arms or armless will also determine the space requirement.
Our trained designers and engineers will discuss the needs and use of the conference table to determine the optimum space for a highly productive and comfortable work environment. Larger conference tables enable social distancing by providing 6’ separation from participants. It’s worth noting that SMARTdesks also offer dividers and sneeze guards to help ensure everyone’s safety and comfort.
How Do You Assemble a Conference Table?
SMARTdesks provides complete delivery and installation services for all our conference tables.
If your organization prefers to assemble the conference table with your own facilities staff, SMARTdesks will provide virtual project management to instruct and guide the assembly process.
Smart Conference Tables
The computer conference room table is a SMARTdesks original. Our initial Smart Conference Table design mounted CRT monitors under the desktop with a pane of glass on top for viewing the screen. The moment flat screen LCD monitors came on the scene, SMARTdesks developed and patented the flipIT® monitor mounting system for flexible access to flat screen monitors or notebook computers. This made it possible for team members to get to a computer when they need it and get it out of the way when they don’t. SMARTdesks' executive conference room tables feature fully integrated power and data connectivity, to keep cable management simple.
Custom Conference Room Computer Furniture
The SMARTdesks custom, one-to-one approach for each conference room starts with interior design ideas from our design team. They customize each SMARTdesks computer conference table design to not only project corporate image for each client, but also, make data visualization optimum for communicating, collaborating and persuading using the client's choice of technology.
Our online business model began in 1997 as a custom manufacturer of innovative computer conference room furniture. Our product line developed by listening to our clients to bring them conference room furniture ideas customized to make each modern conference room experience uniquely their own while taking their meetings and collaborations to the next level.
Multimedia Conference Tables
Multimedia computer technology has evolved incrementally over the years, and so have our computer conference table designs through customized technology integration. SMARTdesks offers the patented flipIT® monitor mounting system for flexible access to flat screen monitors and notebook computers. And SMARTdesks conference room tables feature fully integrated power and data connectivity, to keep cable management simple.
The original V shaped video conference table: SMARTdesks Piano
SMARTdesks pioneered the original Computer Conference Table. An isosceles triangle shape, it sat people in the V shape opposite its base. Launched at NeoCon 2004, this was before large video screens were being used for teleconferencing. flipIT® concealed monitor mounts were integrated for data visualization, and this permitted people at the table to see each other while using computers. At that early time, a projector might have been used on a screen set up at the base end of the table.
As HD video teleconferencing became the new thing. SMARTdesksPiano Computer Conference Table product line was a natural. Instead of having to rely on a second big screen for data visualization, the flipIT® monitor displays were perfectly placed for personal, close-up data visualization, yet recessed into the table so faces and camera sight lines were not obscured. The V shape of the conference table was perfect for all to be seen by the camera in one shot.
The distinguishing feature of the Piano is its technology well, which is accessed by opening its hinged lid on a strut like a baby grand. This works out better than the V shaped conference tables that have nothing in the center. A speaker phone for the conference table can be pulled out of the well and placed in a central location for all to hear and be heard. Small form factor CPUs can be stored in the well, along with accessible wire management.
Clients wanted to seat more at the table, so we put two V shaped tables together for conference. We found that the line-of-sight advantages were still there, and the video conference table could be used in a number of ways.
- As a line-of-sight conference table, people seated on the two long sides can see everyone.
- Multiple meetings take place in the same space. Small work groups form in the flexible, collaborative space.
- Teleconference using half the table as an isosceles. The screen at the far end of the table can present faces, the camera can zoom in a bit to see everyone around the V shaped conference table.
- Boost Group Table. With the video screen (or multiple screens) at the end of V shape, an HDMI switcher can be used to share screens from laptops or PCs in conference.
- Two V shaped conference tables in one make a full immersion telepresence conference table. Set up three cameras and three screens on both ends of the teleconference and the mirror effect is even more impressive—the people really are seen filling the empty chairs on the other side of the table! For data visualization, the flipIT® monitor displays give natural social cues to the people on the screens from the cameras creating the spatial illusion of presence.
Piatto Modular Conference Tables Made Custom
Our name for this line of modern modular conference tables is Piatto, which is Italian for "flat." That means that anything goes…as long as the top is flat
The overall shape can be anything— rectangular, boat-shaped, racetrack- shaped, U-shaped, V-shaped. The Piatto Modular Conference Table can have data ports and power, flipIT concealed monitor mounts for flexible data visualization, and customized wire management for the computer connection boxes.
See our case study of the installation we completed for University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business. The goal was to create a collaboration space for data visualization courses in a flexible active learning space for 70 students. The space is also used for open-scheduled study. Eleven Custom Huddle Group Collaborative Conference Tables were arranged in an open plan.
Project leaders at the Mendoza took interest in the flipIT® concealed monitor mount for this space because the screens were recessed into the tabletops. Because the number of screens in this data visualization space was so densely populated, this exclusive flipIT feature became the impetus to apply the Piatto "anything goes" approach to collaborative conference room furniture design and expanded on it to create the open plan active learning space, loaded with eleven HDMI huddle groups.
Presenter controls for the screens were a huge part of the planning. The professor can select any screen in the house and put it up on the large laser projector screens. Each of the eleven huddle group tables can work independently. The Piatto Huddle Group Tables were configured with two large displays at the end of each table. Each flipIT station at the table could be shown on either the left or the right screen by the user pushing a button marked LEFT or RIGHT. SMARTdesks worked with the client to locate the drilling pattern for placing the HDMI control boxes exactly where it was ergonomically ideal for each user. Internal wire management for each table was engineered so there was no sign of cable clutter.
Another part of Piatto's "anything goes" approach to multimedia conference tables are the finish choices. Piatto's "flat" top surface can be commercial conference table grade High Pressure Laminate (HPL), available in patterns, colors and wood grain finish prints that fool the eye at a value price. The edges can be sealed with long-lasting 3mm PVC edge banding, polyurethane molded to look like wood, or stained wood edge molding for a fine furniture detailing.
Another way to go is the SMARTdesks Artisan Custom Made Conference Tables. This is a fine furniture approach that features only top-quality veneer, finished to perfection. Our veneer specialist selects only from the top 1-2% of veneers, choosing only Grade 1 and premium quality veneers. Once the veneer is selected, our veneer specialist will meticulously shape and align the veneer layups to ensure both continuity and artistic excellence. Artisan Veneers are available in a variety of patterns and cuts to include 1/4 cut, full cut, rift cut, and composite veneer. Wood species include white oak, maple, walnut, ash, mahogany, sapele and other special veneers upon request.
We have a unique process of developing our own colors through our “Stain to Match” program. If you have a color to match, we will match it and send it back for your approval. This service give you complete creative control without limits, offered without up-charges.
Collab Tables for Collaborative Conference Rooms
The Collab Active Learning Conference Table equilateral triangle shape is ideal for collaboration. Initially, we made this table as a variation of the Piano with its signature lid-on-a-strut and technology well. Created as a modern conference table with data ports and power, our Ivy League client loved the creation of Collab's big central column base with IT access to wire management. It also shrouds a pop-up power data port in its center. Each table was appointed with six flipIT Laptop Safes® to secure the institution's laptops in this multi-screen multimedia environment, rich in data visualization.
To assist in the construction of the space, we sent made plywood Collab top templates, the centers of which precisely indicated the core drilling locations for power and data in the space—the 18-inch cylindrical wire management columns being on center with the tabletops.
The interior design choices were high-style, demanding the SMARTdesks Artisan Veneer tops with stained wood edge which coordinated with the curved-wood task chairs and the wood trim and color scheme of the architectural space. See the pictures on the Collab Active Learning Conference Tables page.