Last year was the beginning of change brought on by a viral pandemic. It was also the beginning of acceptance of a new normal. It is in this challenging environment education design and creativity thrive. Places of higher learning are poised to move away from the cookie-cutter looks of the past, think outside of the box and pivot to stronger sustainable designs.
Healthcare design leads the way for education design
Acutely aware of the design measures being embraced by the healthcare market, during the pandemic, education designers are following the successful design and procedures in healthcare for their environments. Designs that are the “new normal” use furniture that, considering the high volume of contact in an educational environment, is made of a bleach cleanable polymer that stands up to repeated use, will not scratch and looks like new for many years.
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Multipurpose education design spaces
For education to continue inside the halls of learning and for learners to learn safely, education design, above all else, must be flexible. In other words, ready to adjust quickly to whatever change occurs. Spaces that housed large groups of diners at tables packed in and placed side by side should be flexible enough to create zones for small groups. Tables and chairs of questionable finishes are a thing of the past. In high traffic areas, furniture with bleach cleanable, non-porous finishes and durable coated fabrics are what designers are looking for.
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Creating social bubbles in education design
An education design trend that began in the professional sports world is the creation of social pods or bubbles that can limit the number of people who can gather at one time. These ‘pods’ can be established for study groups, collaborative study or social clubs. Furniture in these areas must have three attributes: easily movable to maintain social distancing guidelines, seating and tables that create semiprivate spaces within the area and of course, furniture that stands up to a high level of frequent cleaning.