February 1, 2009
These smart, stylish furnishings should enliven even the stuffiest academic environs.
In many schools and universities, students face a profound disconnect between the lofty ideals of a liberal education and the shabby physical reality of the classroom, with its hard-as-sin seats, cramped desks, and faded slate blackboards. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of furniture systems that promote good posture, facilitate collaboration, and integrate power and data ports for computers, while remaining sturdy enough for countless semesters of Trapper Keepers and Ticonderoga No. 2s. And while money is always a concern, furniture that is portable, multifunctional, and easy to store can actually help cut costs over the long term. (For more on the ideal 21st-century classroom, see IDEO’s design guidelines) The products shown here are worth considering for all sorts of educational settings, from the elementary-school classroom and library study carrel to the magazine-strewn corporate lounge.