Why Custom Furniture?
When fitting out your modern learning space, agility should be considered in all aspects as it helps create an environment that can be rapidly reconfigured for any learning experience. When considering the furniture you will use for fit-out, custom made is a great option as it can be tailor-made to meet the design of the space and is often more cost-effective than most suppliers. Below are five pieces of custom furniture that we have redesigned for LEVEL 5 Bahrain and Riffa Views International School.
1. Agile Table
This versatile table called the Periodic Table can be used by students from around 10 years to adults. Users can flow between standing and sitting using either a veneer or whiteboard surface. The original table was designed by Stanford’s d.school. Multiple iterations were created at LEVEL 5 in China to get it to a point where it was strong enough that even middle schoolers couldn’t destroy it.
Now in its ninth iteration in Bahrain, the updates to the design have been made to make it even stronger and sleeker. We removed the side portholes, eliminated the inner brackets, and plates were added to the wheels for increased strength. See design and dimensions here.
2. Moveable Whiteboard Wall
High ceilings cause a big problem when attempting to create breakout spaces. Hanging whiteboards or full sliding partitions were not an option in LEVEL 5 Bahrain’s four-meter-high ceiling. Solution: An agile whiteboard wall. This gives us the ability section off the space to create breakout sessions. In addition, the teachers and leaders in our school have found multiple uses for the wall and plan to order some to be used around the school. Their agility makes them valuable in many different situations.
The third iteration will have storage inside, creating a lower center of gravity for the wall. We recommend adding casters that don’t have locks as this is the only time the wall gets tippy. See design and dimensions here.
3. Agile Chill Space
Students shared their love for working in closed off, comfy areas which inspired the construction of an agile reading nook. This reading nook is based on a Malcew Design. The 2" foam padding and thick fabric provide a space that is soft and significantly quieter.
The first iteration is a bit large. It might be wise to cut the nook in half widthwise and creating two separate pieces creating two interlocking sections. To add comfort, 4" foam padding could be used. In its current form, it is still very mobile. This model could also be scaled down by cutting all dimensions in half. It would then fit in classrooms and be suitable for elementary students. See design and dimensions here.
4. Agile workbench
The Bashbench was designed specifically to meet the needs of both light and some heavy fabrication. We don’t mind if it gets dirty, smashed, painted and beat up . The use of 3/4" plywood gives strength and also fits the design of LEVEL 5 Bahrain.
Different sized storage makes this bench ideal for any fabrication area. The eight-sided cubby sections will be fit-out with small sliding bins for consumable parts. Larger sections can be used for heavier tools, such as miter saws, routers, and other power tools. Inset pegboards will be placed on the sides allowing hand tools to be visible without losing the ability to push the bench flush with the wall. We doubled up 3/4" plywood to create an extremely durable top surface.
Iteration number two will be slightly thinner, shorter, and the lengthwise bracing 2x4s will be turned sideways to create wider storage areas. We will also look to scale down some of the benches to create working surfaces for even the youngest learners. These will double up as benches when not being used by students. See design and dimensions here.
Magnetic WHiteboard Wall
Having writable surfaces everywhere helps educators and students make their learning visible. A major challenge we face is the cost of traditional whiteboards. Solutions like laminated MDF, shower board, and whiteboard paint are an option, but they all have their challenges.
A cheap option for us has been 1mm galvanized steel sheets with 1mm high gloss Formica sheets over the top. Both can be adhered to the wall with common sealant. This created a magnetic writable surface that could be applied almost anywhere. The writable wall in the picture below was created for about $220 USD. The wall is approximately 25 square meters in area. Cut the price in half if you are okay with a non-magnetic surface.
Work in Progress
Most of these pieces of agile furniture are in their early stages of development and over time will be altered and improved. The benefit of custom furniture is that it is always evolving and can be improved through a design thinking process. If you have ideas on how to make them better, we would love to hear how. The next iteration is right around the corner.
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