ICFF 2011: Classroom Of The Future Designed By Eighth Graders

A collaborative project between a school, design consultancy, and manufacturer both teaches and generates good design.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the 2011 International Contemporary Furniture Fair was the Tools at Schools project.

Design studio aruliden, together with Bernhardt Design, conceived Tools at Schools as an initiative to teach eighth graders the value of design as a problem-solving tool at The School at Columbia University. Forty-four eighth grade students were immersed in the entire design process, from research to ideation to 3D modeling and ultimately launch. What started as a simple effort to get involved in the community grew into a much larger realization that design has a role in the classroom. Their success was not only in their concepts, but in the awareness each student gained in the process. The result was a collaborative vision of today’s classroom – designed for kids by kids.

A couple of things impressed us about this project. First (as you’ll see below) the design solutions represent that perfect balance of function and beauty. Sadly, school furniture’s reputation is some of the most uninspiring and impersonal stuff produced. The eighth graders did a remarkable job of channeling their experiences towards improving the furniture.

We also liked that the students themselves were on hand at the show and were effectively in charge of presenting the project to visitors of the stand. Not only could they speak about every detail of the project, they offered some interesting insights. For instance they decided on the gradating blue tones on the locker doors because it was simply “cool”.

We’re looking forward to a special exhibition at the Museum of Art & Design this fall with will feature the ‘Tools at Schools’ project. Also head over to the website to check out a series of videos which chronicle the development process.


Planning, Inspiration and Design boards produced by the students.


Desk showing modular tray configured for art studio.


Math class application uses tray well for a book rest.


Details of various tray uses.


Clever storage hooks are incorporated into the desk leg and seat back.


Lockers integrate a name tag which can be pushed open to reveal a mail slot.


Locker interior makes efficient use of space and includes a magnetic dry-erase board.


School at Columbia University student explaining the locker and desk.


aruliden
Bernhardt Design
The School At Columbia University

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