I spent a portion of today reviewing furniture made by UCI; Utah Correctional Industries. For those not familiar with this program,  the State of Utah’s prison system seeks to give the prison inmates skills, to provide for themselves once out of the prison system.  In one of the departments they offer training in furniture making and upholstering.

This is the second time I have worked with the inmates at the prison to provide furniture for a project. Both projects were for a healthcare project for the University of Utah.  Because of their good experience with using them previously, they wanted to explore working with them again on this new project. In the past they have made “waiting room/lobby” type furniture (If you have been to the Moran Eye Center, you have seen what they are capable of producing.) This is the type of furniture we are working with them to produce again. Because these individuals aren’t furniture makers by trade – at least yet – and because the intent is to get them out of the prison system, your most experienced workers may not be there for a long period of time – thus creating an “ever training” environment. The downside of that, is that they haven’t had years of experience to work out all the bugs in how furniture goes together.  But on the upside, they will work to build any of the designs you give them and will make mock -up samples for review and commit to make sure they get it right.

Here are some of the pieces we are working with them on. We gave them design concepts and tweaked them to make them our own:


double seat

double seat issue 3

This finish is too shiny and inconsistant

double seat issue 1

The coloring of the two pieces of wood rails coming together should be closer in contast

double seat issue 2

The wood cap isn’t sitting square on the arm.



smaller lounge

smaller lounge issue 1

The wood stock that was used for this leg is curved




bench issue 1

Vinyl is often used in healthcare environments. It doesn’t breath exceptionally well. When you sit on this bench, a large air bubble is produced in the fabric on the opposite side of the bench. This is because the plywood backer board used to support the seat, blocks proper air flow.

bench issue 2

This bench is really unstable. When we looked at the legs, these two black screws were the only thing keeping the legs attached to the side rails. More structure is needed.

UCI’s, strength is their customer service. They want and need your business and you feel that when working with them. If product doesn’t hold up or if you need to make changes, they aren’t going anywhere… and will be there to fix the mistake or get you what you need – all the while not charging you an arm and a leg to get it done.

I really think highly of this client because of the work they  do with UCI.  It shows that they are committed to the development of the State and put their money into making it a better place for all – even those that are in prison.

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