Twice in the last month we’ve been found in airport lounges, seeking out the free wifi, whilst Darina waves her passport and sings “mini break”. “It’s work” I keep reminding her. The thing is, when you love what you do, it doesn’t really feel like work. So last week’s “mini break” was a visit to VS Furniture in Germany, to source kit for Blue Sky Classrooms.
For Blue Sky, we’re delighted that we’ve now teamed up with two experts in classroom design and IT solutions. The very impressive Gareth Long from The Learning Crowd, and the inspirational Hannah Jones from Connecting Learning. Both Gareth and Hannah bring brilliant perspectives to the partnership not least because they’re both ex head teachers.
Gareth, Darina and I headed to the headquarters of VS Furniture in Tauberbischofsheim. We had a great and enlightening time. We only had time to walk through one of their factories, which was over a kilometre in length and largely operated by robots. Pretty amazing to see. German efficiency it really was! The VS showroom is like a private Habitat and full of things that you’d wish to kit out your dream classrooms with. VS site their core values as quality, sustainability and ergonomy. They are particularly passionate about chairs. Children need to be correctly supported and comfortable – it improves concentration, it’s important for bone development, it matters. Every child deserves a decent seat. VS offer eight different chair sizes and a staggering number of options. VS also have an onsite museum of classroom furniture, which was splendidly curated and greatened our understanding of how classroom furniture design has evolved. We had the absolute pleasure to spend time with the owner of VS, Dr Thomas Mueller. Dr Mueller shared our interest in pedagogy and the use of classroom space and we had some interesting discussions about the shifts new technology has brought to classroom design. I was inspired to meet a business person who is clearly so passionate about teaching and learning.
Ultimately, we came away with a sense that for our Blue Sky Classrooms we must find a happy medium that combines ergonomic values with affordability. Do any of us really want our children spending 25 hours a week sitting on a cheap, inflexible plastic chair? Yet more often than not it’s price alone that contributes to decisions on current classroom furniture. The Blue Sky team are hoping to tackle this issue head on. Now let’s see what we can do.