Focus on Furniture

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill. — Changes in curriculum design carry a great influence in the changing wave of classroom interior design, with furniture evolving to meet the needs of 21st century learning environments.

The lined rows of plastic-topped desks of yesteryear are becoming outdated and replaced with more flexible, tech-friendly workspaces for students.

“While some products like a chalkboard are becoming obsolete, what we are seeing instead are traditional classroom furnishings that are evolving to meet the changing needs of 21st century teaching and learning,” said Cindy Weinschreider, director of marketing communications for Bretford Manufacturing Inc.

Bretford, headquartered in Franklin Park, Ill., is committed to adapting to the evolving classroom with tech-enabled, sustainable furniture design for learning spaces.

With extensive research on the topic of 21st century learning, Weinschreider provided five key learning concepts that are driving the transformation of classroom furniture:

• Learning is Social: Simply put, we learn when we share and engage with others.
• Learning is Mobile: Learning is an active pursuit, whether it’s with our bodies, the devices we are using or the way the furniture is set up in a room.
• Learning Integrates Technology: This requires a careful understanding of the power and mobility of smart devices and how to best integrate them with the pedagogy and curriculum.
• Learning Needs Context: We learn from where we are, who we are with and from those with whom we interact.
• Learning is Multi-Modal: People learn in different ways and respond to many different styles.

Agility, connectivity and versatility are key to furnishing a 21st century classroom. Tables are used as opposed to desks to allow for collaboration, Weinschreider said, and now include power outlets for smart devices, which have become an integral tool for the modern classroom.

“These products are flexible and reconfigurable depending on the needs of the classroom,” Weinschreider said. “Tables can be daisy chained together and put into different formations to fit the subject and the number of students in the room.”

Tables, desks, interactive whiteboards and other furniture are now equipped with wheels in order to provide mobility and easier storage, Weinschreider said.

Many new products are also in a wide range of standards and custom colors with a variety of fabrics to attune to a modern look and feel, added Weinschreider.

A certified carbon-neutral company, Bretford is one of many furniture companies that is increasing its focus on sustainability.

“Many companies have taken extra measures to make sure their products are certified so they are safe for the environment and especially for the children who are in the room,” Weinschreider said.