Function determines what a space should do. Analyzing how a space will be used and what activities will take place in that space marks the programming phase of interior design where furniture and furnishing is involved. Function determines which furniture and furnishings (like appliances, fittings, and accessories) are necessary for the most efficient and safe usage of space.
Furniture and functionality work together in the space planning phase of interior design. By definition, space planning is the allocation and division of interior space for a client’s needs and activities. How to place the furniture is an essential part of space planning, where maximum usage is considered in the arrangement of furniture.
Space planning also involves circulation. Circulation refers to leaving enough space for human flow. For the best utilization of space, furniture is placed to allow free movement. This makes the space around furniture as important as its arrangement. Thus, furniture works as a functional and circulatory element in interior design.
Interior designers use furniture to establish a pleasing sense of order. They consider two-dimensional and three-dimensional design in the arrangement of furniture along with the elements of design such as shape, form, color, and texture.
The principles of design can be applied to furniture, too. For instance, pieces are arranged by size, scale, and proportion; rhythm is employed by repeating furniture; unity by harmonizing furniture with other spatial features like a fireplace; or emphasis by using a furniture grouping as focal point. Balance becomes the primary consideration in arranging furniture because furniture affects the sense of equilibrium and stability in a space.
Like arrangement, the selection and specification of furniture and furnishings is an important job duty of interior designers. This is known as FF&E (furniture, fixture, and equipment), the stage of the process where interior designers make furniture selections and provide a detailed written description of the selected items called a specification.
All furniture can be classified as soft and hard. Soft furnishings, as we know, are soothing and comfortable. On the other hand, hard furnishings perform functions beyond the comfort of the human body. An appropriate mix of furnishing and furniture transforms a bare space without any functionality into an area which is highly suited for the performance of the function or functions for which the space was built.
In professional spaces, considerations in addition to aesthetics, comfort and durability have also to be looked at. These are related to physical safety, fire safety, cleanliness and maintenance convenience. These factors have also to be taken into consideration while setting specifications.
Furnishing Auditoriums-Auditoriums exist for a utilitarian purpose: to provide a space in which to be entertained. Despite their root in necessity, aesthetics and comfort should not be neglected when designing these spaces. Users expect distinct design elements when attending a play, seminar or concert, and a lack of attention to detail can take away from the overall experience.
Having a tilted stage in your auditorium makes for an optimized audience experience that essentially tricks the eye into thinking the stage is much deeper than it is, with a forced perspective. This design choice has the merit to become an auditorium’s unique selling point but as with all designs, it has its shortcomings.
All modern auditoriums have ascending seating, as it provides the audience the best view possible. If you elect to have steep ascending seating in your auditorium, the individual audience member will have an even better view of the stage. Steeper seating also gives the theatre a greater sense of drama, with the seats in front dropping steeply away to reveal the action on stage.
However, when it comes to seminars and audience participation, shallowly ascending seating is vastly superior to steeper options which distance the users from the stage. Shallow seating puts everyone on the same level and is designed to allow for easier communication and conversation.
People like being comfortable. That’s an inarguable fact. When choosing a venue’s seating, bear in mind cushioning, back design, height and most importantly: leg room. Without adequate seating in terms of comfort, you’re going to have audience members shifting and not paying full attention.
Similarly, soft furnishing and floor covering; stage curtains and backdrop as well as the proscenium design can have dramatic impact on the overall aesthetics and comfort of the auditorium, besides helping with acoustics. It has to be borne in mind that durable materials have to be used as there is heavy traffic and footfall, which causes accelerated wear out. Safety issues and maintenance issues also need to be carefully looked at.
Furnishing smart classrooms-There is now widespread adoption of Collaborative Learning curriculum. Classrooms in the 21st Century must support it because it will be the dominant model of education for the foreseeable future.
Collaborative Learning is different than traditional methods in two fundamental ways.
First, Collaborative Learning is student centered, empowering the student to be an
active participant in the learning process. The interaction could be between student and teacher, student to student, student group to student group or single student to student group.
Second, Collaborative learning revolves around solving open-ended problems or creating some sort of a “product” which could be anything from a report, a poster or a video. These projects give the students an opportunity to develop the widest range of learning skills.
The classroom has evolved from a static physical space into a dynamic learning environment. What made this evolution possible is the combination of a better understanding of the way students learn and the ability to apply that understanding through more effective teaching methods. Naturally, as the teaching methods changed, so have the teacher’s tools, which in addition to digital teaching aids; audio/ video systems, also includes the classroom furniture and furnishing. The modern classroom furniture allows integration of audio/ video and electronic teaching aids with the furniture and furnishing.
Mobility is a crucial feature for furniture in a collaborative learning classroom. So, always consider optional casters for the furniture. Without them, moving desks is a struggle for students, and reconfiguring classrooms disrupts progress on lessons and projects.
The educator needs more tools to facilitate group and project learning. One invaluable resource is a cabinet that allows project materials to be sorted and stored for each group and distributed to the group when needed, then put away when finished.
Soft furnishing should also facilitate ease of mobility, variation of lighting intensity, and ease of operation and maintenance. Floor covering, window dressing and wall covering should be conducive to promoting flexibility and safety in the teaching environment.
The classroom furniture’s design can help students learn (and teachers teach) in several subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Some of the more obvious ways are through meeting physical requirements like size, making sure the furniture is properly scaled to fit the size of the student. Classroom furniture that fits, eliminates a distraction and helps students to concentrate. Recent studies indicate movement can contribute to concentration, and is considered beneficial to physical health.
Equally important, but slightly less obvious, is classroom furniture functionality – does the student’s classroom furniture consistent with the curriculum? Because learning now often takes place in groups numbering from two to six students, classroom furniture has to have the ability to be configured in groups. This is largely determined by the design. It is found that the shapes and colors of classroom furniture go a long way toward making the environment welcoming, stimulating and engaging to the student. Classroom furniture is a physical point of contact between the student and the school.
Furniture and furnishing of classrooms have thus become very technical and complex and needs professionals to be involved from inception.
Furnishing Conference rooms– A meeting room can leave a strong impression on clients. It can either help them come up with fresh, creative ideas, or it can distract them with how uncomfortable and stuffy it is. If you want your clients to remember the former rather than the latter in your next meeting, here are ways to infuse personality and professionalism into any conference area.
Of course, you want clients to be as comfortable as possible. You want them to have enough elbow room, as well as space to get up and walk around. At the same time, you also want the meeting room to be small enough to let people know they’re safe in a group.
There are plenty of seating styles you can choose from. For example, the U-style allows everyone to engage with the speaker and vice versa, while the theater/classroom style can accommodate more people. The conventional center table layout of various shapes and sizes is conducive to smaller and more group interactive meetings. Be sure to check the pros and cons of each style before deciding on a final layout.
As mentioned earlier, your guests should be as comfortable as possible. Give them a refrigerator within arm’s reach, so they can get up and drink whenever they need it. Invest in tables with mini-cabinets, where your guests can stash their belongings while participating in the meeting. Put a bin or two in a corner of the room so guests can dispose of their trash properly.
No matter how you design a conference/meeting room, always remember: It should, first and foremost, be a safe and comfortable space where professionals can gather, brainstorm and collaborate.
It is important to ensure that the furniture and furnishing of a conference room reflects the personality of your organization, that it is able to integrate all the requirements of the digital aids that you need to equip your conference room with, that it fits properly into the size of your conference room, allowing adequate circulating space for the participants.
It is therefore desirable to involve professionals from the concept stage itself, so that all possibilities and options can be explored and the best solution adopted.