How to create flexible learning spaces that focus on the needs of students and teachers

Purchasing the right furnishings can make a difference in creating positive and efficient learning environments. Manufacturers such as National and KI, offer a complete range of products covering the full needs of teaching institutions, from the reception area to interactive learning stations and computer labs. All components are designed to meet your requirements in terms of ergonomics, flexibility and the integration of new technologies.

When it comes to creating a fluid, tech-savvy, and collaborative learning space consider the following solutions:


The wide range of options provides flexibility and functionality making it easier to adapt to different teaching approaches.

Tables & Seating Solutions

Fold Tables by National

Move tables together to collaborate or apart for focus time, or move them out-of-the-way entirely.

Solution highlight: durable casters and flip/nest capabilities allow users to reconfigure with ease.

Essay Seating by National

Essay by NationalFrom classrooms to informal settings, Essay is prepared and ready to perform in any situation. Easily hang a bag or backpack on the chevron-shaped back and feel comfortable that it won’t end up on the floor.

Solution highlights: The optional double pivoting tablet arm offers a non-handed dual work zone allowing users to swivel the worksurface into the perfect location. Add an optional upholstered seat cushion to any Essay model for extra comfort.

Ruckus by KI

Rickus by KIRuckus innovative seating promotes student movement and lets users choose how they relate to their learning spaces. The Ruckus collection fosters student engagement, enables a wide range of teaching styles and adapts to a variety of users and uses.

Solution Highlights: With Ruckus chairs, users can quickly and easily change from focused to collaborative work on the fly without the disruption of rearranging furniture. Seating is non-directional to improve sight lines, and the chair back is perch-able to facilitate tiered classrooms without the need for stools.



Interactive technologies are at the heart of the modern school. A collaborative classroom setting that enables easy integration of today’s and tomorrow’s technologies is essential in every campus.

The Right Tools

The Power Tower by National

Power To wer by NationalThis Power Tower is power hub that can be used in a variety of ways. Simply position it among a cluster of chairs or tables in a lounge, student center, or meeting area to provide 360 ̊ of power to a group of users.

Solution highlight: The power tower provides access to 9 power receptacles and 6 USB charging ports.


Power Tower by Nationa;

Connection Zone by KI

Connection ZoneConnection Zone Screens move where you move. Spark creativity and facilitate collaboration with writable surfaces that create and define classroom zones. Screens can be used individually or ganged together for division of space, or to provide a larger canvas.

Solution highlights: A variety of insert materials are offered, from acrylic to steel, to tackable fabrics. Easel hooks support writing pads, while accessory trays give quick access to Collaborative tools and dry erase items.


NeoCon 2012 Highlights: Part Four

NeoConography Shots from NeoCon12


If you missed NeoCon 2012, where the contract industry kicks off its year showcasing the newest in office products and resources, not to worry.

You can practically relive the experience through the attendees’ perspectives thanks to KI’s #NeoConography photo contest. KI awarded $100 each to the top shots submitted. The five winners are shown below, but be sure to check out KI’s #NeoConography Pinterest Board to see the hundreds of shots taken. From the people and food, to the parties and views, to new products galore, it’s almost like being there. And, hey, if it makes you think about going next year, you can check out the dates here.

KI’s #NeoConography = NeoCon + Photography

Congrats to @KItweets for such a great idea and to the Top 5 Winners, @designelixir, @jensingson,  @hotlead@mndyvn and @TBInteriors_Inc


Tips On Using Social Media For NeoCon12

Things are buzzing as NeoCon 2012 gets closer and KI hosted a Social Media Webinar with tips on how to turn that buzz into a successful show for those planning to attend.

In collaboration with NeoCon, IIDA, Designer Pages and Metropolis Magazine, KI offered social media tips on things you can do before you get there, during the show and even best practices on how to follow up once you get back to the office.

Below are a few of the highlights, and you can find the complete deck here.

BEFORE NeoCon Social Tips:

  • Follow major media outlets and show organizers for most up-to-date information on the show
  • Tweet using the #NeoCon12 hashtag to find who to follow. Use search for industries
  • Follow firms and industry organizations and manufacturers that will be exhibiting at NeoCon
  • Join the NeoCon Group on LinkedIn to find out who’s talking about NeoCon
  • Create your profile on
  • Download the Designer Pages Showrooms App to take your profile mobile so you can browse, share and save showroom info.


DURING NeoCon Social Tips:

  • Follow the #NeoCon12 hashtag to plan your day, find the best parties, learn about speakers/seminars, scope out the hottest products
  • Use your Designer Pages Showroom App to connect with all of the showrooms on your mobile device
  • Blog about your experiences
  • Use Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to both share and capture highlights from the show
  • Enter KI’s NeoConography Photo Contest where mobile photography of creative shots, will be awarded with Visa® gift cards
  • Participate in IIDA’s Pinterest Photo Contest to best demonstrate how work, play and culture intersect
  • Follow IIDA on Facebook for updates
  • Follow IIDA Design Matters blog
  • @MetropolisMag and @3M_Architecture have teamed up for the MetropolisLikes Program to award products, showrooms and companies throughout the show.


AFTER NeoCon Social Tips:

  • CardMunch App from LinkedIn – turns business cards into LinkedIn contacts.
  • Send follow–up emails with people you met
  • Continue to use the #NeoCon12 hashtag to see what conversations you missed as well as keep connections alive
  • A Flickr album will be embedded on for viewing
  • Congratulate #MetropolisLikes recipients
  • Ask your connections to share their photos
  • Post blogs about what you saw and learned
  • Post to your Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts
  • Watch for more info on IIDA’s June 19th NeoCon Highlights webinar


Key Hashtags for NeoCon 2012


10 Essential Furnishings Every Office Needs To Consider

Sometimes knowing what your office doesn’t need helps narrow your furniture purchasing strategy. Whether the size of your office is large or small, the following basic furnishings should always be considered, even if it is determined some of them are unnecessary.

TASK SEATING Designed to be adaptable to specific tasks performed, ergonomic chairs allow your employees to get the job done faster, in a more comfortable and healthy way.


DESKING SYSTEMS Today’s organized systems provide places for computers, numerous devices and ‘things’.


VISITOR SEATING Seating that gives your guests or patients a place to get comfortable, in areas such as lounges or waiting rooms.


OCCASIONAL FURNITURE This shows that you’ve put more thought into your workplace than “just the basics.”


RECEPTION AREA – Extra attention here gives you opportunity to make a great first impression.


ARCHITECTURAL WALLS/PANEL SYSTEMS These systems create division between people and distractions.


POWER/DATA SOLUTIONS An important consideration for your furniture in today’s ‘connected’ world.


TASK LIGHTING The illuminance level and contrast and proper lighting for mood and eyesight cannot be underestimated.


STORAGE Planning ahead gives you a place to file documents, clear clutter and hide personal belongings.


BREAK ROOM TABLES AND SEATING Area that allows your employees to take a healthy break from their work for a meal or even conversation.


What do you think? What furnishings do you consider essential in your office?











Treating Healthcare Environments with Powerful Colors

Treating Healthcare Environments with Powerful Colors

We’ve talked before about the importance of choosing the right colors for your office setting as hues can conjure many different emotions for your visitors and staff. Within the healthcare environment, color becomes an even greater consideration as it can actually affect patients’ medical outcomes.

It has been proven time and again that how we feel affects our health. So it only makes sense that how we feel as we are being treated or tested for an illness could make a difference in how fast we recover. Color, as it turns out can have a resounding impact at all stages of care.

“Research reveals that people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.” – CCICOLOR: Institute for Color Research

Also, according to the 2004 report titled, “The Role of the Physical Environment in the 21st Century Hospital,” the research team found rigorous studies that link physical environment to patient and staff outcomes in 4 areas:

  1. Reduce staff stress and fatigue and increase effectiveness in delivering care
  2. Improve patient safety
  3. Reduce stress and improve outcomes
  4. Improve overall healthcare quality

and Pallas Textiles teamed up to take this concept a bit further. In their collaborative whitepaper, The Power of Color in the Healthcare Environment, they mention other confirming studies specific to color application and healing. Together they researched and developed a holistic understanding of color on the healing process.

Their findings suggest we should mix and use color as close to how it is found in nature, as possible. The following list of colors summarizes the meaning of each color group. For more on the effect these colors can have on the body and healing processes, check out the whitepaper. It’s a must read!

Light Cool Neutrals ­– Clean
Dark Cool Neutrals –  Clean
Earth Tones/Light and Dark NeutralsGrounding

KI also provided four examples of real-life applications:

  1. Radiology – Colors that promote relaxation make patients calmer. Because they move less as tests are run, the imaging quality is higher providing the physician with more accurate results.
  2. Pediatric – soothing yet interesting colors can create a warm and inviting atmosphere that ultimately reduces stress for both the child as well as the person with them
  3. Elder care – the use of light and warm colors such as orange and red can actually improve visual acuity in poorly lit environments
  4. Critical care units – blues, greens and purples have healing and calming influences and are considered stress-reducing colors

Do you consider color a top priority when choosing the furnishings for a healthcare facility?

Storage In The Office Is No Longer To NOT Be Seen

Today, storage is not just about filing old or unused records in case there is a need for future reference.

Far from it.

With companies trimming down on physical office size as well as opting for more open and collaborative spaces, they are losing traditional areas to file information. Storage must now be incorporated into actual working areas and must be accessible on a daily basis.

Awkward and inadequate storage space can even lead to lowered productivity.

“The average cost of searching for just ONE misfiled document is $120”

Poor storage solutions not only have an impact on companies’ bottom-line, they affect employee moral as well.

“Inadequate storage and filing space ranks in the Top 10 office complaints by employees”

Yet even with these alarming statistics, storage is typically the most overlooked issue when companies consider new or renovated offices. A whitepaper titled Filing and Storage by KI is a must read for anyone planning new or renovated office workspaces. Below are just a few of the highlights garnered from the paper:

  • Because proper planning is missed at the beginning stages, storage is the most frequently reconfigured workstation component
  • Even though we are supposedly moving toward a paperless society, storage needs have only grown, not diminished
  • Companies must determine information they need to store based on how often it is accessed from daily to periodically to rarely.
  • 36 percent of worksurface space is is now occupied by computers, monitors and other electronic equipment, efficient storage making even more important.
  • The ever growing concepts such as teaming, collaboration and virtual offices which promote shared spaces have created a shortage of traditional storage areas


Further, KI suggests four key areas that should be considered early in the design stages to ensure appropriate storage needs are not only met, but allow for room to grow.

1. Real Estate Costs
Although it varies by industry, the goal of most companies these days is to reduce the office space required per employee. This has been the result of many factors from the economy to reduce costs to the popularity of open spaces to increase teamwork.

  • With offices getting smaller, there is less room for the typical 5-high lateral files
  • With panels being lowered in most systems, storage cabinets are disappearing

2. Wasted Space

Traditional storage solutions must be reexamined to locate any potential gains.

  • Something as seemingly small as 1.5” can produce 20% more space by using 10.5” drawers instead of the traditional 12.”
  • It’s important to take an audit of exactly what is to be stored. The way that information is managed has changed dramatically. Everything is not on letter- or legal-sized paper. For instance, systems must accommodate other forms of media including CD’s and DVD’s among others.

3. Accessibility

Being able to “find” information is imperative.

  • It is estimated that workers spend 15 – 30 percent of their work time “looking” for information.
  • A typical organization of about 1,000 employees wastes $6 million to $12 million per year  searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information or recreating information that can’t be found.

4. Environmental Issues

Green design has now become the single greatest force in the building industry.

  • 92 percent of facilities managers surveyed say they are actively working to make their facilities more sustainable.
  • Because a great deal of storage solutions are incorporated into the actual workspace within the actual furniture and walls, they must be aesthetically pleasing was well.
  • Well done storage systems can actually help companies toward their LEED® Certification.


So, plan for storage in the beginning stages. You can choose to do it now, or be forced to do it later.

You can download the complete whitepaper from KI, as well as proposed solutions, here.

Designing Education Facilities Today Demands New Ideas.


For those of us responsible for designing, building and renovating educational facilities, it’s time to go back to school – and fast.


A recent whitepaper prepared by KI explores how we must rethink education. In essence, whether it is the actual facility or the furniture that completes it, we have all been accustomed to designs and prices based on ‘“student-head-count’ per-square-foot.’

But things have changed dramatically over the past few years. The way we all receive and curate information today is radically different, yet the bricks and mortar and traditional teaching models within the education system are still in place. Architects and designers have very real opportunities to aid in preparing educational institutions for the future.

So, why is it important to move now?

A report prepared by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century states:

As we end the first decade of the 21st century, there are profoundly troubling signs that the U.S. is now failing to meet its obligation to prepare millions of young adults.

A few of these include:

• Only 56% of those enrolling in a four-year college attain a bachelor’s degree after six years.
• The U.S. has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world even though we spend $400 billion annually on post-secondary education.
• U.S. employers complain that today’s young adults are not equipped with necessary skills.
• Students fail to see the connection between their studies and job opportunities.

The report goes on to conclude:

The fundamental problem is that our education system has not evolved to serve young adults in this radically different world.

KI suggests that we all shift our proposed solutions to position educational institutions for better  “learning” per-square-foot, thereby improving student success, creating a community of learning, and strengthening our country’s competitive position for the future.

This requires understanding the impact the digital world has had on our youth. According to the Pew Research Center this generation is:

• Confident
• Connected
• Open to change
• Team-oriented
• Self-expressive
• Upbeat
• More ethnically and radically diverse
• 93% go online
• 97% play computer, web and portable games
• 75% have created social networks
• 20% have posted a video of themselves online

Students today expect 24/7 access to information and the ability to study or do homework anywhere, any time. So, in order to attain the attention of these constantly moving targets, educators must be moving with them. It’s no longer a choice.

A good starting point includes designs with:

• Less walls, open feeling
• Engaging environments
• Flexibility
• Connectivity
• Collaborative areas
• Interaction opportunities

This will not only have a radical impact on how classrooms are designed. It essentially turns every square foot into a learning opportunity – or should.

But what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?

Also we’d love to see some samples if you are already incorporating new ideas to prepare the education industry for the 21st Century.







Electronics Charging Unplugged. How Does This Effect Office Furniture?


The answer is – a great deal.

Can you imagine being able to simply lay your laptop or phone on a desk and it automatically begins to recharge your battery if needed? Well, the technology for wireless charging embedded into furniture is here and being manufactured, now.

So, why do we need it?
As noted in a recent whitepaper from KI, titled Charging Ahead: Intelligent Wireless Power for Real World Environments, the explosive growth of the portable electronics industry has helped to reinvent the way consumers and businesses work, play and communicate.

• According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average U.S. household owns 25 consumer electronics products
• It is estimated that by 2013, the average U.S. household will have 2.5x as many digital media devices in use as in in 2008.
• These portable devices are being transported into the workplace, community spaces and campus buildings and the number of these electronics continues to increase daily.

Now, imagine an office environment having to support all of these devices when it comes to recharging the batteries. The cord clutter alone becomes a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? Not to mention the number of wall sockets that will be required to accommodate the increasing number of portable electronics. Hence, the push for wireless charging.

Wireless power
Some furniture manufacturers such as KI are already looking to the future by partnering with Fulton Innovation and embedding wireless charging into their furniture with eCoupled technology. The results include flat surfaces such as desks and counter tops that will have the capability of charging batteries simply by laying your device on the surface. This intelligent technology will not only know if your device needs charging, it will immediately begin the charging process.

IMS Research projects that over 900 million devices will be in the market by 2019 using wireless charging and over 50% of the market will use embedded solutions.

How do you feel about wireless charging? Will you consider purchasing furniture with this capability?

For more information on how the technology actually works when embedded in furniture check out this video be sure to read the KI pdf listed here.