I M Design



All the furniture that an educational establishment needs can be made to order, but as you would expect there is a cost advantage to using off the shelf products.

As with all things getting the balance right is important, bespoke design in the wrong hands can be hit and miss, while mass produced designs do not always meet cutting edge needs, both can lead to clunky looking solutions.

Educational furniture design is often cost led and a poor combination of form and finishes can lead to a sombre and slightly depressing interior.

There is no established look for a school or academy, a reception area does not need to look institutional nor like an accountants; you are free to be inspired.

I M Design create spaces where staff and pupils feel comfortable.

We try to reinforce the roles that each is expected to undertake.

Staff need to feel confident that they have the resources that they need.

Students need to feel that it is a special location provided for them and understand through the design and material what is expected of them.

Does the physical condition of a school or classroom effect attitudes and performance?

Clearly it must, in the worst case poor working conditions will have some effect on staff ability to teach and pupils ability to concentrate. Strong leadership and determined staff can overcome obstacles, but this is an unnecessary waste of time and energy.

In a new build school there is always an initial high for staff and pupils who have witnessed exciting changes, this effect can diminish over time and the only way to maintain the benefits and enthusiasm is to ensure that solutions and designs are of the highest standard in the first place.

Can schools can be built to a limited number of standard designs?

We don't think so.

You may say that it is in our interests to say that but, if we assume that every location has its own set of unique requirements, every community has its own needs and strengths, schools and academies might want to specialise and every local leader should have a unique vision for the future, we can quickly see that the permutations are endless.

Reducing cost through standardisation always looks attractive, but is a classic case of asking the wrong question.

The real question is, how do we reduce building costs? The answer might come from any of a number of areas, new building techniques, new materials, off-site fabrication, just to highlight a few.

To get a job, should students learn in an office style environment?

Some people do suggest this possibility. We think the purpose of education is to develop competent and responsible individuals through stimulation, inspiration, respect and responsibility. The question we ask is, what is needed to achieve that aim?

Can standard office furniture designs work in a school?

Yes and no.

Interiors and furniture are areas where teaching staff can have influence, more so than the fabric of the building. The issue is, what is needed to do the job well? The answer is not always easy to find. The task is a job for a designer, not a furniture planner or a decorator, but an experienced designer who will ask the right questions, understand your needs, and appreciate how space, colour, materials, technology, manufacturing can all be used to your advantage. And sometimes that can include using office furniture.

Is a new building the key to having a successful school?

Obviously, that is not the case. Leadership, management and teaching will always be the most important elements. The building and its interiors are part of a balanced mixture of resources. Older or dilapidated buildings and interiors unbalance that resource. But understanding what you actually gain from a new building is part of the key to success.