NCEF Resource List: School Furnishings
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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 Adobe PDF
(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.

Learning Spaces.
Macphee, Larry
(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. Adobe PDF
(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.

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
Spellman, Walter
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
Fickes, Michael
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
Kiefer, Amy
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
McCrea, Bridget
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.
Jackson, Nicholas
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 Adobe PDF
Breitner, Ashlee
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
Hendrickson, Tricia
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
Insenga, Mario
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.
Hassell, Kim
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.
Jones, Tony
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.
Korber, Mira
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
Rivero, Victor
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.
Vredevoogd, Jeff
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.
Demski, Jennifer
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.
O'Brien Stephanie
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.
Hoskins, Jennifer
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.
Wernick, Laura
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
Kamal, Sameea
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.

Mobile Learning.
Erickson, Paul
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.
Eckmann, Aimee
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.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).