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Flexible furniture for the future

We talk to Peter Smith, director at Innova Design Solution, about the future of design in education

Posted by Hannah Oakman | September 29, 2016 | Facilities & buildings

What are the current design trends enabling flexibility in education furniture? 

The ultimate aim for interior designers at the moment is to create education spaces that anticipate change and accommodate interactive configurations for individual study and collaborative learning.  

Teaching is likely to become much less formal, shifting away from teacher-led classes towards sociable, interactive and even virtual learning focused on collaborative work and discussion.

Flexibility is essential when it comes to enabling the rapid change from group work to individual learning and lesson planning to incorporate different styles of teaching and technology.

Current trends include technology embedded furniture or fitted furniture layouts that meet the need for collaboration and group work. 

Do you have any particularly flexible, design-led furniture innovations? What are their unique benefits?

We have pioneered a revolutionary product called the Hot Corner. Designed for science labs and fitted with benching on either side of a circular corner – students can gather around the Hot Corner section to conduct experiments and work collaboratively.  

Gas and electric outlets are located on the front face of each bench, away from the work surface ensuring they are tamper proof, safe and easy to access for practical sessions. 

The Hot Corner enables the teacher to switch quickly and easily between individual study with collaborative learning, ensuring minimal disruption as well as improved classroom management. 

As Hot Corners always come as part of a wing layout, the configuration relocates the teacher to the long wall of the classroom, shortening the lines of communication to ensure the teacher is the focus of pupils’ attention. 

The result is a flexible learning environment that addresses the need to provide both a working classroom and practical laboratory within the same space and support different teaching and learning styles.

Dulwich Prep School

What are the on-trend colours in classroom and furniture design?

Lighter colours create a fresh and clean look and invariably future-proof the environment.

Combining these neutral colours with flashes of bright edging on the furniture helps create an atmosphere that is calm, stimulating and on trend.

How do you expect classroom design and configuration to evolve moving forwards? 

Learning spaces will need to become ever more resourceful, social, sustainable and stimulating as education leaders focus less on space efficiency and more on space effectiveness and designs evolve to meet teacher and student requirements.

In line with this and to boost concentration, engagement, attainment and workplace skills – students will have more control over their learning experiences while online learning and increased group interaction will dictate what classrooms look like and where they are located.

Creative spaces that allow collaborative working from break-out spaces with modular seating to creative use of corridors, cyber cafes, multi-functional libraries and learning commons will enable schools to foster a culture of teamwork.

The design of classrooms needs to be optimised to accommodate new and future technologies, in order to maximise versatility and keep costs down. This can be facilitated by providing sufficient power sockets, delivering seamless cable management and providing secure storage spaces.  


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