Everyone knows that furniture for the education sector has to be super durable – whether it’s primary school children, high school students or university undergraduates, the furniture must withstand multiple different occupiers each day.
A lot is expected of education furnishings and finishes as a result – strength and practicality are a requisite. Easy to repair is a must. But that doesn’t have to mean that educational furniture is boring, predictable and uninspiring. To the contrary, the right interior design and furniture choices in educational environments can help to motivate and engender pride, empower and give cues to students as to what is expected of them.
We regularly work with educational establishments to trial furniture solutions long before any procurement decision is made. For the procurement and teaching team the benefits are very real, for they can be sure that the furniture is fit for purpose, sufficiently durable and it supports their teaching style and approach. But it has real benefit for students too – giving them an opportunity to put the furniture through the rigours of continual use and perhaps more importantly, to seek their buy-in and approval of the choices on offer.
Students take more pride in the things they’ve chosen themselves – whether it’s colours, styles or finishes. While students aren’t the only decision maker, they do offer a unique perspective and so by encouraging participation, trial and feedback you are much more likely to deliver spaces they’ll want to occupy. Happier students equate to more engaged, achieving and focused students.
For many years there was a common view that education was in no way about comfort – that a utilitarian approach to spaces and furniture would create a generation of self disciplined, focused and responsible individuals. Since then there’s been an epiphany – a realisation that our environments impact on how we feel and work and the outcomes we achieve. We now wholly embrace that comfort in our environment, whether that’s a home, work or school, can have a hugely positive affect on learning, productivity and creativity.
UK learning establishments have embraced this and there are countless examples of educators creating truly wonderful spaces that excite, motivate and inspire. These are spaces that encourage students to use them throughout the day rather than running for the door when the bell sounds. These are spaces where the right furniture and interior treatments have transformed vast buildings into smaller learning communities and where the design aesthetic has improved student dwell time and created a greater sense of belonging and pride. These are spaces where educators have understood that the proliferation of technology has created the need for choice, that even as students, we want to choose where and how we work.
All sectors and industries talk to their customers about what they want from the products and services they offer, yet the educator sector, historically at least, has been less keen. Now the benefit of involving stakeholders, local communities, parents and guardians, as well as the students themselves, is much more widely realised.
Of course, on a more practical level, this notion of involving students in your furniture and design selection also helps to lessen your repair bill later down the line. After all, you can be sure that students will make the furniture work for them regardless of its design. By asking students about the level of adjustability they want (maybe height or swivelling on chairs etc) and even whether they need easy access to power points for charging their devices, you will avoid them trying to do it for themselves.
This reduces breakage, wear and tear and means you’ll have students that are actively proud of their environment. Trust in your students. They know what they want and they’ll thank you for knowing that too.
To find out more about the education revolution, download our whitepaper When Education and the Workplace Collide, which is full of guidance and advice: