I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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For the past year, I’ve searched for an affordable, good-looking filing cabinet for my home office. Unfortunately, “cheap” and “designer” don’t often mix these days. I had two choices. Get a cheap beige metal box from Office Depot or spend a whole paycheck on a chic filing cabinet from Vitra, Steelcase, or DWR.

I had almost given up when I found Trig, a chic and retro filing cabinet from CB2. But for $150, I was skeptical. The pictures looked decent, but we all know images lie. Since CB2 (a Crate & Barrel spin-off) has no retail store in San Francisco, I also had no way to test it first hand. After a long internal debate, I took a risk, bought it online, and hoped for the best.

Here’s what I got:

Out of the box

Opening the box resulted in quite a mess of plastic and styrofoam packaging:

Trig 1

Here is it is fully unwrapped:

Trig 2

Trig 3

Except for the optional casters, the filing cabinet came mostly assembled. I chose not to install them to preserve a cleaner and simpler look:

Trig 4

Trig 5

Trig 6

Here are the dimensions:

  • 15.5″ Wide
  • 19.75″ Deep
  • 27.25″ High (with wheels)
  • 24.75″ High (without wheels)

What I like

I was right about pictures lying. But this time, the cabinet was much better looking than the images on CB2′s website. It was solid and well-designed, paying homage to mid-century metal filing cabinets:

What’s not totally apparent in CB2′s pictures are the nicely integrated chrome detailing that also functions as handles. Here’s a close-up I took:

Trig 7

Like most cabinets, Trig fits both letter and legal sizes. But what I love more is its support for non-hanging as well as hanging files. If you’ve read Getting Things Done, you’ll know David Allen’s disdain for bulky hanging files. Unfortunately, most new filing cabinets are made with these in mind. They’re often too deep and wide for regular folders. Trig, however, is just the right size.

What I don’t like

To reduce cost, Trig omits some niceties. First, there are no security features or locking mechanism, making it unsafe for sensitive materials like your plans to take over the world or those blueprints for a faster-than-light warp drive.

CB2 ships via FedEx, so don’t expect white glove delivery like you would from high-end design retailers. This was posed some inconvenience. Because my apartment building doesn’t have a doorman, I had to spend $40 on a cab to pick it up from FedEx. Not fun.

As another by-product of the shipping process, one of the drawers shifted off its tracks during transit. I was worried it was permanently warped and unusable. Luckily, all I had to do was pull the drawer completely out, put it back in correctly, and it was fine again.

You also won’t find Trig in multiple size configurations. It’s only available with one large filing drawer and two smaller drawers. For more storage, you’ll have to buy another unit.

Nor will you find in a wide range of colors, just steel or blue. I feared the blue might turn out terrible, so I went with the neutral steel version, which turned out great in the end.

My final word

For a mere $150, CB2′s Trig filing cabinet is well worth the money if you want basic functionality with a well-designed exterior. It’s fits well into a home office, but it’s not an ideal choice for hardcore business uses and security.

Note: I did not get paid for this review.

18 Comments

  • Mike G

    gravatarMay 1, 2007
    8:51 am

    This seems like a handy filing cabinet. I’m a college student, so I have a little less cash to spend on anyhting like that. Actually, I have no money to spend on filing. I DO have a filing cabinet, though. I use the hanging files, I have to admit. I currently have 2 100 lb dry wall screws in my wall from which I hang loops of wire. The folders hang rather nicely from the wire. The folder stack grows outward from the wall. Not the best option, but it works pretty well for being built from things I found around the house.

  • Brent

    gravatarMay 1, 2007
    10:20 am

    Looks swell! Where’s your desk from? It looks like it has one big drawer for stuff to fit in or the top flips up.

    Brent

  • Chanpory

    gravatarMay 1, 2007
    10:48 am

    Mike, I’d love to see a picture of your budget filing set-up.

    Brent, My desk is from Room & Board and it’s called the Basis desk. It’s one big drawer that pulls out. But what’s nice is that the front of the drawer folds down, so you can use it as a keyboard drawer as well. Here’s the link to it:

    http://tinyurl.com/2f3xuq

  • Luke Noel-Storr

    gravatarMay 1, 2007
    11:09 am

    That is a nice looking filing cabinet (and desk too!).

    I’ve been going through the same problems of trying to find something attractive and cheap (well, or just attractive would be a start).

    I thought one filing drawer wouldn’t be enough for me – until I started filing, and it should do fine for now.

    Now I just need to find how I can get one of those in the UK!

  • Mike G

    gravatarMay 1, 2007
    11:11 am

    I’m guessing that the picture got moderated, so I’m going to go ahead and try to post again.

    Here’s my file cabinet: Click Here.

  • Ben

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    7:36 am

    What kind of sliding mechanism do the drawers have? Do they glide smoothly out? Or is it a rougher, noisier experience?

  • Thermopyle

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    9:56 am

    Dang, I like that desk. But 900 dollars?!?!

  • mark

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    11:04 am

    That’s a hot set up. You’re a filing pimp daddy Chanpory.

  • Liza

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    4:04 pm

    Where did you get that table thats over the filing cabinet and how much was it?

  • Thermopyle

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    8:52 pm

    “Where did you get that table thats over the filing cabinet and how much was it?”

    Your question was answered about 6 comments before yours.

  • ac

    gravatarMay 2, 2007
    10:38 pm

    New reader here. Just saw your post on parallel parking and as a 26 year old with a newly minted driver’s licence, I have to say: Ganbatte! and good luck with the parallel parking. It’s not that bad once you’ve tried it a couple times. :)

  • Anthony

    gravatarMay 6, 2007
    8:39 pm

    SO where can we buy the desk?

  • Liza

    gravatarMay 7, 2007
    9:13 am

    The desk url is: http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/collection.do?method=get&id=4046022&cat=49

    $900 is way to much for such a simple desk. Is the wood real or particle board? Are the legs stainless steel?

    I love the look of the desk but not the price.

  • Chanpory

    gravatarMay 7, 2007
    2:07 pm

    Hi Liza, thanks for the link.

    Yes, the wood is real. It’s also solid wood and not plywood. That, combined with the stainless steel legs, is what makes the desk cost $900.

    I decided to spend the extra money, because I wanted a well-built desk that lasts a really long time, rather than a cheaper disposable desk from Ikea.

    It’s surprisingly hard to find a simple well-designed desk that’s made of solid wood for under $1000.

  • Liza

    gravatarMay 7, 2007
    3:22 pm

    Chanpory:

    It’s very true what you said about those IKEA desks, you do get what you pay for.

    Thanks for the info!

  • L Barnes

    gravatarJul 11, 2009
    8:49 am

    Thank you for posting this. I was going to buy it and then kept looking. I found your blog. I’m buying it!

    L Barnes Laguna Beach, CA

  • John

    gravatarMar 1, 2010
    10:11 am

    Great looking cabinet. Does it have the spring-loaded follower mechanism to keep papers from collapsing inside your folders?

  • file_cabinet_key

    gravatarMar 26, 2010
    12:09 pm

    I like this article! Will come again next time for sure, thank again