Co.Design

School Furniture Designed To Help Fidgety Kids Concentrate

The design “expresses movement,” the architects say. At the same time, it’s supposed act like a gentle dose of Ritalin.

Kids are terrible at concentrating, until you put a video game in front of them, and suddenly, they're doctors performing brain surgery. (Or so conventional wisdom goes.) Dutch architects i29 put that theory to work on the furniture at Het Veer, a public school for children with attention deficits and other learning disabilities in Almere, the Netherlands. The place is designed like an architectural gloss on BuzzWire!

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BuzzWire!, for the uninitiated, is a concentration game in which the player has to tilt his iPad or iPhone to keep a little dot on a wire or fail and set off an excruciatingly jarring buzzer. (It's similar to Operation, but without the fun of removing body parts.) I29 took the wire motif and slapped it onto tables, seats, trash cans, and some hybrid furniture of ambiguous function. One contraption is a pair of benches with what appears to be a too-high seat back; another looks like a table and a balance beam in one.

The design "expresses movement," the architects say. At the same time, it's supposed act like a gentle dose of Ritalin. Take the hybrid furniture. 'Several types of furniture are combined into one program and it is not directly clear how they should be used,' they say. "This makes the children concentrate on their environment and think how the furniture should be used."

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We like the design. It's playful and even a little stylish (for a school, anyway). But we doubt that last point. Based on the photos, the students appear to be pre-teens, and we can pretty much guarantee that furniture is the last thing they're thinking about.

[Images courtesy of i29]

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1 Comments

  • joren - studio ballenbak

    I agree that the underpinnings of their claims is sparse. However, I think you're missing the point by claiming: "we can pretty much guarantee that furniture is the last thing they're thinking about." From  an environmental psychology perspective, it's irrelevant whether someone 'thinks' of something in order to influence one's behavior by means of (for instance) furniture. Moreover, people are easier to influence in their behavior when they don't think of it ;-)