This research will contribute to a small but increasing body of knowledge
in design-related research specifically for primary school furniture and will
be of significance to those in design, education, ergonomics and the
school furniture industry.
School chairs connect pupils with the surrounding classroom environment
and are, therefore, a vital factor in providing appropriate physical support
for children to learn in comfort. Evidence indicates that this is not the
current state-of-affairs. Studies show that school furniture, including
chairs, does not provide a good physical fit for pupils and this is a
contributory factor in children reporting back problems. So, apart from
being uncomfortable to use, badly fitting school chairs could be
detrimental to children’s long-term wellbeing.
The aim of this design practice-based research was to find ways of
contributing to children’s long-term wellbeing by improving the design of
primary school chairs. On the face of it, this appeared to be a
straightforward design problem. However, taking this view is too simplistic
because the chair exists in a social environment affecting all aspects of its
being. This real world setting holds clues to addressing the design
problem. A multi-stakeholder and participatory approach has been used
to explore furniture design issues within the real world setting of a working
classroom. Ethically approved, field research used qualitative,
ethnographic based methods.
Insights from the field have been used to test a design concept for school
chairs with greater relevance for those in primary education. However,
research findings also demonstrate that the archetypal school chair is an
inappropriate design for primary school users and identifies why design
alone will not alter the status quo. Social and cultural factors as well as
the design affect the way that children use chairs in school and both need
to alter for any real change to take effect.
|Date of Award||Jun 2016|