3 Inspiring Concepts for School Design at NEOCON 2014

Educational Design inspiration

The Connect Hub by Steelcase: an enclosed enclave for private conversation and confidential content-sharing with integrated power in the lounge seating to accommodate personal technology devices and the ability to share digital content on a wall-mounted monitor.


This year, Steelcase has really made a push towards finding balance in improving collaboration by rethinking privacy. According to Susan Cain, author of the international best seller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, “one-third to half the population are introverts.” This is a huge social issue when you consider that businesses have placed more value on extroverts in the workplace, thus forcing introverts to adopt extroverted behaviors in order to adapt to corporate culture.

“When introverts act like extroverts, it’s very stressful. It’s not their natural behavior,”

states Cain.

With this in mind, Steelcase has come up with solutions that recognize that people are different, not just by their work type, but by their personality.

This makes me think about how this applies to school design. Whether helping students focus by creating enclosed spaces for quiet reflection, respite and study or creating private rooms, individual workspaces with privacy screens, and small enclaves for improved concentration, these spaces support varied pedagogies and learning styles as well as provide environments to support a range of postures.


Technology in our home, work and education environments continues to evolve and become more integrated into our daily lives. Two technologies really caught the attention of our design team this year at NEOCON.

The first was the eno interactive whiteboard as featured in the Steelcase Showroom. According to Steelcase, eno is “the first and only interactive whiteboard that seamlessly blends analog and digital, markers and multimedia with the simplicity of a traditional markerboard.”

The second was Bluescape as featured in the Haworth Showroom. Bluescape is “an infinite, collaborative workspace designed to accelerate decision making by enabling anyone and everyone to create, communicate, visualize, organize and strategize virtually anything…anywhere and anytime.”

The following pictures depict eno (L) and Bluescape (R) in action.


It’s difficult to have a “favorite” when it comes to furniture as there are so many different product types (ie Seating, Tables, Casegoods) and ultimately, the decision comes down to personal aesthetics, comfort and budget. Fortunately for consumers, there are many options to choose from and most companies have their own version and answer to the competition.

If there are two themes that we hear over and over again in Education Design, it is MOVEMENT and FLEXIBILITY.

When it comes to movement and active learning, there were several products that I feel were noteworthy at NEOCON this year

In regard to flexibility, I think KI’s Pirouette Tables were an innovative solution to learning environments that promote multiple collaborative configurations and efficient nesting capabilities.

The following pictures depict Humanscale’s BALLO (L) and KI’s Pirouette Tables.