by Tina Manzer
The educational furniture market in North America is poised for growth, says a new report from London-based research firm Technavio. “School Furniture Market in North America 2018-2022” predicts a compound annual growth rate of 4.89 percent from 2018 to 2022.
In 2017, the global school furniture market reached a value of US$4 billion, notes the report.
The U.S. market, specifically, is a hard one to quantify. An article in the Los Angeles Business Journal last May about the size of California school-furniture manufacturer Virco, noted, “There is little market data for the school furniture industry.” Reporter Shwanika Narayan turned to EDmarket’s Jim McGarry to find out why. “It’s quite fragmented, but we are trying to reclassify terms to give us a better sense of the market in the United States,” he told her. “There’s a lot of crossover with business in this niche. Segments are classified as ‘early childhood,’ ‘pre-K through 12th grade,’ ‘college,’ and then on the flip side there’s ‘office furniture,’ ‘cafeteria furniture,’ and ‘classroom furniture.’”
Still, growth is undeniable, especially if attendance at the annual EDspaces conference is the yardstick. The show was honored in Trade Show Executive magazine’s “Fastest 50” for three categories in 2017. Last year EDspaces reported a record number of school and architect attendees. This year, the association expects that record to broken. In anticipation, it has increased the number of classrooms for educational sessions from five to six.
Growth in the market is the result of several factors, says the Technavio report –
• an increased focus on aesthetics;
• a growing demand for ergonomic designs that prevent health and posture problems in children;
• the need for comfortable learning environments that keep students focused;
• new interactive and dynamic teaching styles, like blended learning and flipped classrooms, that require portable and adjustable furniture that can be reconfigured easily; and
• the growth in the demand for eco-friendly furniture.
(Another factor, mentioned by many sources, is the increasing role of tech in today’s classroom.)
The potential of the school furniture market had not gone unnoticed by ECRM, and the Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing company will hold its first Educational Furniture & Equipment EPPS in Itasca, Illinois, from October 1 through 3.
“Our new EPPS for educational furniture and equipment results from the feedback we received from both buyers and vendors who participated in our educational supplies EPPS back in February,” explains Melinda Young, ECRM’s senior vice president of general merchandise. “There were enough of them focused just on school furniture and equipment that we knew there was an opportunity to spin that segment out as another session.
“We are excited to hold this first session and anxious to get feedback from our customers.”
Meanwhile, EDmarket is gearing up for its annual furniture-and-equipment-presenting EDspaces tradeshow. It’s experiential, with leaders from school districts and colleges, architects, interior designers, dealers and exhibitors engaging and participating in the ongoing transformation of educational environments.
Case in point: six design and architectural firms were recently chosen to create actual classrooms for EDspaces. Two of the learning environments will be located directly on the exhibit floor, and four will be located in the convention center meeting rooms. Nearly 60 education sessions will be held in the classrooms, allowing attendees to experience the ways different products work in a various educational settings.
Here is a list of the winning firms.
Architecture for Education (A4E), Pasadena, California
A4E includes what it calls “Educational Manifestations” in every one of its projects. “Physical manifestations of our clients’ curriculum, they are emblematic of a child’s curiosity – continually reaching out to engage students’ imagination and offering a multiplicity of teaching opportunities,” explains its website.
DLR Group, New York City
Among its award-winning designs in 2018 alone are the Lee’s Summit R-VII School District in Kansas City, Missouri; the School of Arts and Entertainment Building at Valencia College in Orlando; and Lee High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
MA+ Architecture, Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma
This 50-year-old firm recently received an “Outstanding Design Award for Classrooms” by American School & University magazine for its work on the additions for the new Norman High School Freshman College/Career Academies.
NorvaNivel + Gould Evans
Architectural firm Gould Evans, with offices in San Francisco, Phoenix, Lawrence, Kansas City, and New Orleans, believes that “partnership is the expression of individual talents made manifest through a shared vision.” The classroom it created in partnership with Australia-based NorvaNivel, designers of school furniture and learning environments, is highly personalized and supports multiple concurrent pedagogies.
OnPoint Innovative Learning Environments
From its Ontario, California, headquarters, tech firm OnPoint partners with districts and schools to create innovative learning environments to support student, teacher, and school collaboration. In addition to providing a comprehensive range of technology products, it offers continued support and service, including classroom design and professional development.
Van Auken Akins Architects
Based in Cleveland, VAA is a member of the Northeast Ohio chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and is committed to sustainable design. Whenever possible, it specifies products and construction methods to help create a safer environment.
A team of judges comprised of purchasing influencers, AIA- CAE-member architects, and past winners of EDmarket’s classroom design competition conducted an extensive review process of the submitted proposals. They were evaluated for aesthetics, overall functionality, vendor engagement, relevance to the future of educational facilities, and flexibility of the learning space.
EDspaces is the conference advancing the conversation about the future of learning environments. It is where innovations are unveiled and collaborations form, bringing together education’s creative change agents who plan, design and manage educational spaces. For more information, visit ed-spaces.com.