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August 5, 2013, by Lindsay Mullett

Coming to a classroom near you: Movement Furniture

This year I had a great opportunity to attend Neocon; a crazy three day tradeshow of amazing new products, thought-inspiring seminars, and a melting pot of design experience from all around the world.  As a first-timer, I wasn’t sure what to expect but was excited to see what new products would wow me, and more importantly, which products could help us expand the boundaries of the education design world in which we work.

There were many reoccurring trends I saw: Dry-erase on everything imaginable, the merge of furniture and technology, portable technology hubs, & high back seating to name a few.  But the one reoccurring theme I was most drawn to was the idea of “movement furniture”.  As a life-long fidgeter, I was thrilled to see many seating options that allowed users to lightly bob, rock, or sway, that still were comfortable, supportive and aesthetically pleasing.  While it isn’t necessarily a new idea to education or furniture in general, its popularity is gaining momentum as manufacturers and researchers begin to understand the impact movement has on the learning of all ages.  So how exactly could it affect the classroom and learning?

It makes sense that a sedentary schedule can often lead to a lack of body circulation, eventually creating boredom, tiredness and a lack of focus.  We also now know how movement can help reduce stress and increase positive feelings. So when you compare these findings, it makes sense to incorporate movement into the classroom to not only increase engagement and interest, but also to create a positive association with learning and the classroom.  The furniture I saw at the show allowed users to do this in a way that didn’t create a distraction, and were appealing in style, flexible in function, and simply put, were fun.

While the views of education design evolve, furniture will continue to play a large role in how spaces will function in the future.  I believe this new emphasis on movement within furniture is one step in in the right direction to creating an environment where students can reach their full potential, and even view the design of their classroom as a motivating, fun place to be.

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