A new partnership between design hotshop IDEO and furniture-maker Steelcase aims to address one of the biggest design challenges of traditional classrooms – the static, linear and restrictive nature of face-forward teaching, which makes for passive, one-way learning.

Introduced at this month's NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago, the Node chair is a revolutionary – literally – spin on school seating that adapts to everything that happens in the classroom, anywhere it happens in it.

Dubbed an "active learning solution," Node is based on extensive ethnographic and behavioral research, and includes a variety of features that directly address the new ways in which modern teachers are teaching and modern students are learning – group discussion, team collaboration, lecture, self-instruction and more.

Images courtesy of The Contemporist

A swivel seat allows students to shift focus around the room, with a personal worksurface that swivels in tandem with it, making books, laptops and other learning tools easily accessible. The base of the chair houses a storage compartment for backpacks and other personal items that traditionally clog aisles and floor space.

Node is designed with an adjustable worksurface to accommodate students of various sizes and comes in 180 different color combinations – 12 options for the seat shell, 3 for the base and 5 for the worksurface – making it highly customizable.

This may just be the kind of chair that makes design writing about chairs not entirely reprehensible.


Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.