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Tools at Schools

The youth of today design a better classroom for tomorrow

by Jacob Resneck in Design on 20 May 2011

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Introducing design to youngsters, a recent collaboration between a uniquely-structured private school and two design firms instills the value of reshaping the everyday objects that surround us. The NYC-based project called Tools at Schools brought together The School at Columbia University, an eclectic mix of faculty offspring and denizens of Harlem, furniture manufacturer Bernhardt Design and top-seeded designers from Aruliden to reinvent the classroom in a way that's comfortable, pleasing and above all else utilitarian.

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That's because Tools at Schools teaches that design is not just about aesthetics but about crafting everyday objects that work. Spending hours a day in class, these pupils are well-qualified to help improve the quality of life at school through design. The upshot is a furniture collection that includes ergonomic chairs and desks, which easily hold pens, pencils and books.

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"I used to think that design was really exotic and abstract," wrote one student in an testimonial. "The first thing I would think of when I heard the word 'design' was fashion. It amazes me to think back and see how off I was."

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The roughly four dozen students who participated learned the entire design and manufacturing process—from rough sketches, to 3D plans to shaping the first prototype. Being fully immersive allowed them to work with real-life materials and hone creative skills, teaching lessons in communication, art, mathematics and science in the process.

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After 25 weeks, the fruits of this student labor have moved beyond the classroom laboratory, debuting at ICFF last week and moving on to the Museum of Arts and Design in November 2011.

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