Information on the selection, safety, ergonomics, and maintenance of school and university furniture, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.
References to Books and Other Media
Planning a STEM Classroom
(Interior Concepts, Apr 2012)
Discusses furniture design and room layout that will help to facilitate STEM curriculum and programs to maximize learning. 4p
The Third Teacher
(North Shore Country Day School, Dec 16, 2011)
Architect Trung Le talks about Winnetka, Illinois North Shore Country Day's Upper School project, featuring adaptable classroom spaces, common gathering areas, and flexible furnishings.
Tools at School. The Classroom for Kids Designed by Kids.
(Tools-At-Schools, May 2011)
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 of chairs, desks, and lockers. The lockers, for example, feature a doorknob (inspired by one student describing her locker as her bedroom for the semester) and a wealth of storage, including seven shelves and a tilt-out bin. A clever addition is the name tag that doubles as a mail slot –- which won raves among the students. Includes a description of the process, photos, and videos.
Steelcase Education Solutions Case Study: University of Michigan
(Steelcase, Feb 17, 2011)
The University of Michigan takes a fresh approach to their classrooms, implementing a strategy that includes engagement, collaboration and flexibility. A variety of classroom set-ups and solutions offer students a variety of classroom experiences. Each incorporating collaborative tools and technology.
(Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff , 2011)
Discusses current low-cost ideas for enhancing informal and formal learning spaces. Informal spaces can include display kiosks in common areas, providing power and comfortable furniture in waiting spaces, distributed dining facilities, and collaborative spaces. Recommendations for formal instruction areas room layout, mobile technology, and furnishings. Details of furniture, acoustics, lighting, sightlines, electricity, and audiovisual equipment are also addressed. 19p.
Hub Life: Insights That Shape Campus Spaces.
(Herman Miller, Zeeland, MI , 2011)
Presents responses to a survey of higher education facility planners as to what design and planning elements best suit a "hub," or campus common area. In hub zones, technology is a top priority; accessibility is key; furnishings need to be flexible; and spaces should be designed for less than ten people. 2p.
Steelcase Education Solutions Case Study: Stanford d.school
(Steelcase, Dec 06, 2010)
The d.School's philosophy holds that space, furniture, tools, and technology are integral to pedagogy. Students are encouraged to display their ideas and work in progress. See how they use their space to promote behaviors critical to design thinking, such as empathy and experimentation.
Specifying Lockers to Meet 2010 ADA Standards [Online Course]
(Hanley Wood University, Jul 2010)
The “2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design” issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) contain new provisions that directly impact design specifications and construction on school projects completed after March 15, 2012. Failure to comply with newly mandated minimums could generate problems not only for schools and school districts, but also raise liability issues regarding architect responsibility. This course covers critical changes in ADA guidelines, focusing on key aspects relating to schools, ADA students, locks and lockers. We’ll compare functionality, ease of use and features of ADA-compliant locks and non-compliant locks. We’ll look at value-added design advantages, cost issues and long-term operational flexibility factors for you to consider when you are specifying locker locks for your next project. Finally, we’ll detail new product options available to better serve students whose abilities fall within the ADA Standards.
Steelcase Node Classroom Chair and Tribeca Flashpoint
(Steelcase, Jun 14, 2010)
Learn what's really happening in today's classrooms through the eyes of a state-of-the-art school, and how the new Steelcase node classroom chair helped solve their needs. The node chair provides the ultimate in flexibility, allowing the students to learn how they best learn, and the instructors to teach how they want to teach. The node chair provides an active learning environment. Something that is important to what Tribeca Flashpoint is looking to accomplish in their space.
Innovation Park at Notre Dame.
(Herman Miller, Inc., Zeeland, MI , 2010)
Profiles this higher education facility with flexible interiors that enables students to collaborate with companies to test the commercial potential of ideas. The building has very few permanent walls, minimalist staff space, and movable furniture to accommodate a variety of groups. 2p.
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business.
(Herman Miller Inc., Zeeland, MI , 2010)
Profiles this airy and comfortable facility, in which operable windows, abundant furniture, and attractive ash veneers throughout create an agreeable learning environment. 2p.
Adaptable Spaces and Their Impact on Learning.
(Herman Miller Inc., Zeeland, MI , 2009)
Quantifies the benefits of flexible learning environments with figures representing the learning benefits of comfort, convenience, lighting, movable furnishings, and good acoustics. 22 references are included. The data and text reflect the observations of various institutions participating in the Learning Studio program.
Steelcase LearnLab---Learning Outside the Box
Classrooms today must support frequent collaboration and communication, easy transfer of information between individuals and groups, the effective display of content and the need for teams to constantly reconfigure and switch between different ways of working. These are the demands that the LearnLab environment was designed to meet. The LearnLab grew out of a user-centered design process developed by Steelcases WorkSpace Futures group. The process begins with research to clearly understand end users and their specific needs.
Furniture for Schools.
(Imagine, Sheffield, England , Winter-Spring 2009)
Discusses the importance of furniture in learning environments, accompanied by an international array of examples of conscientious and innovative school furnishing solutions. 8p.
Classroom Colors Make a Difference.
(Hertz Furniture Systems, Mahwah, NJ , 2009)
Discusses the psychology of color, color recommendations for classrooms, the effect of various colors on mood and concentration, and opportunities for adjusting classroom color through furniture and furnishings selection. 2p.
References to Journal Articles
A School Chair Designed For Squirmy Kids
FastCoDesign; Jul 30, 2012
Working with furniture manufacturer Flötotto, the German designer Konstantin Grcic designed a chair that would ergonomically support a full range of seating positions. Grcic’s Pro has a rounded seat like a stool’s, which doesn’t force the body forward, and a curved backrest that fits into the lumbar region and provides a lip at the top, which can serve as an armrest for those who prefer to sit sideways or as a headrest for those who slide their butts forward and lean back.
Creating a College-Going Mindset
Jones, Nathanial and Payne, William
School Planning and Management; , p20-26 ; May 2012
Discusses how educational interiors can help change the face of alternative education by reinventing the look and feel of the classroom. Emphasizes collaborative spaces, layered technology, transparency, and flexibility.
Value Criteria for School Furniture
American School and University; , p30-32 ; May 2012
Making furniture decisions can involve many factors, and they vary from institution to institution. For fixtures, furnishings and equipment, comparing initial cost with the cost of ownership over a life cycle can be more challenging. It may be the functionality of the furnishings that provides the greatest return on investment.
15 Low-Cost Tips for School Interiors
School Planning and Management; , p18-22 ; Feb 2012
Interior designer Carla Remenschneider and architects Jeanne Jackson and Steven Shiver share their favorite low-cost techniques for brightening schools, including ideas for casework, colors, furnishings graphics, lighting, windows, flooring materials, and sustainable materials.
School Furniture by the Square Foot
American School and University; Feb 2012
Discusses redesigning classrooms that requires reconfiguring walls as well as furnishings and making those spaces available for multiple uses. Designs driven by new pedagogy may include a variety of spaces for individual work, small-group work, large-group work, lectures, presentations, breakouts and interaction with faculty. To truly shift the educational paradigm, learning spaces also must reflect a network of connected places outside the classroom, where learning can flow from one space to the next, and a sense of community is fostered.
Designing the 21st Century K-12 Classroom
THE Journal; , 2p ; Jan 18, 2012
Describes six design elements that should be incorporated into the 21st Century classroom: desks and furniture that support collaboration; ample electrical outlets; a smart teacher lectern; lighting that's easy to control; physical space that goes beyond the single classroom; and fewer expansive gathering areas.
Schools Moving Away from Hallway Lockers. Virtual Storage Space Results in Savings, Efficiency.
eSchool News; Jan 05, 2012
Lockers have served as a symbol of the American high school for decades, but with new technology–eBooks, interactive assignments, and web-based learning–they’re gradually becoming a thing of the past. School officials that have made the jump to lockerless cite several benefits: less noise, fewer tardies, and an increased sense of safety.
Smart Building Spaces Redefine Traditional School Environments
School Construction News; Dec 13, 2011
Discusses serendipity spaces that manifest themselves in a variety of forms — from quiet study alcoves in a library, to a main traffic lounge complete with computer terminals and a nearby café; or a comfortable niche seating area adjacent to a window with a scenic view. These areas often reduce the sterility of classroom-oriented settings by featuring useful amenities such as private workstations, power outlets, wi-fi, convenient access to refreshments, televisions and reading material. Typically, these incorporate comfortable seating, such as couches and loungers with appropriately sized work tables. Such serendipity spaces are truly essential to allow the most efficient use of space and to offer reasons for students and faculty to interact outside the classroom walls.
Designing for the Classroom: A History of Herman Miller, in Photos.
The Atlantic; Dec 07, 2011
Today -- and for the past 40 years -- many of the chairs, desks, and tables designed by Herman Miller are released through the company's education division, which unites research with manufacturing to produce unique products that are meant to enhance the learning experience.
Development of a Consensus Standard for School Equipment: NSF/NSSEA 380
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n4 ; Dec 2011
In early 2010, NSF International and the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) came together to develop quality standards for products and equipment designed for use in schools across the United States. Discusses standards for furnishings, carpeting/flooring, and AV equipment.
Constructing the Perfect Design
School Construction News; Nov 2011
Recommends incorporating FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) responsibilities into the program management function, allowing school districts to pull multiple disciplines into one source, delivering synergy, and the best possible solutions. Project managers smooth out the FF&E process by serving as a liaison between school officials and all project teams, helping communicate each partner’s needs. In addition, as the functionality of Building Information Modeling advances, the FF&E process will enhance the ability to design in digital space before installing furniture and fixtures in real space. This will help detect unforeseen problems with infrastructure coordination.
Smart School Furniture
American School and University; Nov 2011
Furniture reuse and refurbishment can support school budget and environmental goals.
Furnishing for Connection.
College Planning and Management; , p44-45 ; Oct 2011
Describes how the Fox School of Business at Temple University transformed a traditional classroom into a high-tech meeting and events space that can morph from seminar room to an event area in a few minutes and that offers a very high-tech video wall and wireless projection for all participants.
Furnishing for Students.
Elrod, Brenda T.
College Planning and Management; , p36-39 ; Oct 2011
Recounts how the University of Georgia kept students in the loop when selecting furniture and furnishings for the recent expansion of the Tate Student Center.
Flexible Classroom Furniture.
American School and University; Oct 01, 2011
Classroom design for the 21st-century learning environment should accommodate a variety of learning skills and needs. Recommends adaptable furniture and classroom spaces.
Modern Marvels. Today's Classrooms Boast Form and Function for Collaborative Learning.
Charter Schools Insider ; Oct 2011
As teaching methodologies have changed to more effectively reach every student in class and engage students collectively for longer, so too have the elements that go into classrooms. The form and function of cutting-edge classroom furniture and technology are designed to enhance mobility, flexibility and personalization.
Team Building in Class.
School Planning and Management; , p28-29 ; Oct 2011
Describes how collaboration tables in the 21st century classroom foster stimulating interactions through their functional and aesthetic design.
Furnishing for Acoustics
College Planning and Management; , p40-43 ; Oct 2011
Discusses the system components and designs that should be considered for a classroom amplification system, where they should be installed, price considerations, how to integrate these into existing systems, and the expected life cycle.
Student Hubs: The New Campus Hot Spot.
Contract; Aug 17, 2011
The need for constant collaboration and connection is driving the emergence of a new type of learning space across college campuses—“hub zones” that offer a place for students to meet, gather, and work together. In hub zones, technology is a top priority; accessibility is key; furnishings need to be flexible; and spaces should be designed for less than ten people.
Aces of Space.
Campus Technology; v24 n10 , p32-34,36,38,39 ; Jun 2011
Profiles four schools that use technology, new design concepts, and flexible furnishings to reinvent their teaching spaces. Curved rooms, interconnected and networked electronic wall displays, modular furnishings on wheels, and classrooms with no front are described.
Total Cost of Ownership.
College Planning and Management; v14 n6 , p53,54,56,58,59 ; Jun 2011
Discusses total cost of ownership (TCO) when making purchasing decisions, i.e., considering all costs expnded over the life of an item, both hard and soft. Faculty desks, staff chairs, and microscopes are used as examples in considering TCO. The article highlights a new awareness of hidden costs, and "green" considerations in decisions to replace existing supplies.
Key to Classroom Design is Furnishings.
School Planning and Management; v50 n5 , p34,35 ; May 2011
Advises on the selection of flexible classroom furnishings, while also addressing computer keyboard and monitor height, multiple electrical drops, and consultation with the teachers who will be using the space.
Furnishings with Flexibility.
College Planning and Management; v14 n5 , p32,34,36,38,40 ; May 2011
Advises the selection of higher education furniture that permits individual flexibility, accommodates technology, and pays careful attention to the education programming of the space.
The School Library Space is Changing.
American School and University; v83 n9 , p24,26,28 ; May 2011
Discusses the evolution of school libraries toward being social and "learning commons" spaces, and away from being storage for large quantities of books. The article emphasizes that this trend extends all the way down to the early learning and elementary school levels.
Furnishing in the Face of Disaster
School Construction News; Mar 11, 2011
After flooding in Nashville, a school was rebuilt featuring furnishing from The HON Company, an Iowa-based office furniture designer and manufacturer. The company furnished the classrooms — preschool through 12th grade — with its SmartLink line, which includes a full line of furniture designed to organize classrooms in way that focuses on technology, flexibility, comfort, and visual coordination.
American School and University; v83 n7 , p34-37 ; Mar 2011
Disputes conventional thinking that movement detracts from concentration. New furniture is being developed that permits and encourages a variety of postures: sitting, standing, and lying on soft surfaces. Moveable furniture includes modular sofa islands for group work or video viewing, and also accommodation for using and storing laptop computers.
Last but Not Least.
School Planning and Management; v50 n2 , p20-24 ; Feb 2011
Describes how an early learning center with a large special needs enrollment carefully selected furniture for ergonomics and a warm palette. Before purchasing, various furnishings were tested in place, with teachers and therapists evaluating the results.
Designed for Learning.
Magney, Tammy; Sorenson, Kim
American School and University; v83 n6 , p26,28,29 ; Feb 2011
Discusses an array of classroom design and furnishing options that encourage diverse learning modes, movement, and accommodation of technology.
American School and University; v83 n2 , p24,26,27 ; Oct 2010
Discusses design and furnishing options for collaboration areas in schools. Flexibility and technology integration are emphasized, noting the evolution of these concepts from business environments to higher education, but with few K-12 manufacturers making the change.
Furniture Selection Tips.
College Planning and Management; Aug 2010
Provides tips and suggestions to keep in mind when determining furniture needs for any new school project, including gathering information, selecting a furniture czar, be prepared, establish a budget, plan ahead, know your technology, and select a reputable furniture vendor.
Back to School.
Metropolis; v29 n11 , p98-101 ; Jun 2010
Profiles educational furniture designed to accommodate current higher education students, who are larger and carry more belongings to class.
American School and University; v82 n9 , p26-29 ; Apr 2010
Discusses the participation of school furniture in curriculum delivery, proper fit of furniture to student size, and components of durable and "green" furniture.
School Planning and Management; v49 n3 , p28,30-35 ; Mar 2010
Reviews elements of high performance schools and describes a lag in a high performance approach regarding school furnishing. Frequently overlooked features such as ergonomics, flexibility, kinesthetics and individual control are discussed.
College Planning and Management; v13 n3 , p32,34,36,38 ; Mar 2010
Discusses the involved evolution of residence hall furniture. Pieces found in residence halls today are more home-like than what was used years ago. Expectations for flexibility, privacy, aesthetics, security, and sustainability are described.
In Position to Learn.
American School and University; v82 n6 , p20-22 ; Feb 2010
Advises on the selection of ergonomic, adjustable classroom furnishings that can be easily rearranged. Problems with some typical designs and advice on accommodating posture, motion, and technology are also described.
The Imagined Space of the Web 2.0 Classroom.
Campus Technology; Jan 2010
Advises on accommodating technology in a classroom. Rooms should be square or rounded instead of rectangular since sight-lines and visual display of information is now as important as the sound of voices; moving furniture for different ways to work with technology should not cause a sudden roar of noise, chair and table legs scraping on tile, but instead the soft rolling of table and chair on a soft surface.
Computer Labs Get Rebooted as Lounges: New Gathering Places for Laptop Users Help Colleges Save on Upkeep.
Chronicle of Higher Education; Dec 06, 2009
This discusses new gathering places for laptop users that may help colleges reduce expenses. More than 11% of colleges and universities are phasing out computer labs or plan to do so. New spaces might be lounges filled with modular furniture and plasma televisions; virtual labs that give remote laptops access to software; or better computer rooms with state-of-the-art machines and pleasing architecture that can act as de facto student centers.
Bodies in Motion, Brains in Motion.
School Planning and Management; v48 n10 , pF3,F4,F6 ; Oct 2009
Emphasizes the importance of physical activity in the learning environment, allowing movement while seated, not requiring extended periods of sitting, and flexible ergonomic seating.
Multi-Use Computer Classrooms.
School Planning and Management; v48 n10 , pF8-F11 ; Oct 2009
Discusses the connection between computer classroom furniture selection and universal design, emphasizing flexibility, ease of reconfiguration, flip-up computers, laptop safes, and selecting a collaborative partner to help select furnishings.
Collaboration Creates A State-of-the-Art Medial School Learning Center.
Kessell, John; Korber, Jeffrey
College Planning and Management; v12 n10 , pF17-F20 ; Oct 2009
Discusses how a university collaborated with a vendor to furnish learning spaces with laptop-ready workstations that are networkable and can be arranged into pods. Sightlines in any direction were preserved by the geometry of the workstations.
Form Follows Furniture.
College Planning and Management; v12 n10 , pF3,F4,F6 ; Oct 2009
Discusses trends toward flexible higher education classroom design which mandates movable and flexible furnishings that accommodate technology. Involving the interior designer in the planning stage for a teaching space is emphasized.
Into the Wild: Campus Site Furnishings.
College Planning and Management; v12 n10 , pF8,F10,F12,F14,F16 ; Oct 2009
Discusses selection of outdoor campus furniture, emphasizing durability, low-maintenance, immobility, ADA compliance, standardizing furnishings across a campus, and warranties.
Why Recycling Makes Sense for Schools.
School Planning and Management; v48 n10 , pF12-F16 ; Oct 2009
Discusses the educational as well as the environmental benefits of school recycling programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys "WasteWise Program" is described, as are recycling and refurbishing possibilities for old furniture.
Designing Collaborative Learning Spaces Where Material Culture Meets Mobile Writing Processes.
Bemer, Amanda; Moeller, Ryan; Ball, Cheryl
Programmatic Perspectives; v1 , p139-166 ; Sep 2009
Discusses how a combination of movable furniture and mobile technology, including wireless access and laptops, can enhance student collaboration in group-based writing assignments. The lab included both desktop and laptop seating areas, so the authors created a modified worksite analysis designed to evaluate team collaboration in this new layout. These material changes in the lab allow students to configure the space according to their needs, offering them some measure of control over three crucial elements of successful collaboration: formality, presence, and confidentiality. Includes 31 references.
Breaking Down Universal Design.
College Planning and Management; v12 n7 , p29,30,32 ; Jul 2009
Advises on selecting educational furnishings that are flexible and can serve a variety of purposes and body types.
American School and University; v81 n11 , p32-35 ; Jun 2009
Advises on assessing the sustainability of furniture by considering its materials and productions, the impact of its transportation and packaging, flexibility that will allow multiple uses, and recyclability at the end of its useful life.
American School and University; v81 n7 , p25,26,28 ; Mar 2009
Discusses school furniture with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Seeking environmentally certified products is recommended, and if none are available, understanding what the furniture is made of, how it might be refurbished or recycled, and its durabilility is essential.
A Seat at the Table.
School Planning and Management; v48 n3 , p36,38,40,42-44 ; Mar 2009
Discusses coordinating deliveries, warranties, installation options, and bulk purchasing of school furnishings.
Behind the Scenes: Furnishing the Maintenance Department.
Notes that school facility departments are often outfitted with furniture that has been discarded from elsewhere on campus. The hazards of working on improper furniture are noted, as is the negative effects on the morale of employees forced to work in a decrepit and perhaps unsafe environment.
Furniture for the Future.
21 Century Schools; v4 n1 , p26-29 ; 2009
Discusses the effect of furniture on health, the importance of dynamic sitting for health and learning, and the necessity for flexibility in classroom furnishings. Requirements for school furniture of the future, as well as new ways to specify and choose furniture are provided.