At what age can kids understand and benefit from learning how the design process works?
That was a question that the New York industrial design firm Aruliden and the North Carolina furniture firm Bernhardt Design set out to discover in an astonishing project that began last fall and will culminate this spring at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York.
The two companies partnered with The School at Columbia, a private K-8 school in Manhattan, to field a project called Tools for Schools. The idea: teach eighth graders how industrial designers work, and turn them loose to try the process for themselves by designing furniture for the classroom of the future.
The kids astonished the designers, their teachers, and themselves, with their ability to grasp the concepts and the process, and brainstorm some truly innovative improvements on the neglected category of school furniture.
In fact, the ideas were so good that Aruliden synthesized them, and turned them into professional renderings. Bernhardt will take the project one step further by manufacturing prototypes, and showcasing them in its booth at ICFF in May.
Best of all, along the way, the design project was integrated into the school’s curriculum, turning subjects like math, English, and science into instantly relevant topics, in service to an idea that the kids were already jazzed about.
This slideshow documents their journey – from research and mood boards, to big idea, to models and renderings. What’s missing? Only a soundtrack of the sheer delight that these kids expressed as they watched their ideas come to life.