TFE Task Furniture in Education is a Marie Curie FP7 (IAPP) Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways funded programme.
The project emerges from ongoing and previous research undertaken in the Industrial Design Department at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin through its graduate school GradCAM and its international collaborators in the area of school furniture design and analysis. While there is a wide range of student task furniture available on the market today, most of it is inadequate to meet the postural needs of pupils and particularly in the context of the accelerating introduction of advanced classroom information technology.
European studies have found that 60% of school pupils experience back problems by the age of 16. The use of computers at home and in schools has changed the way that children and young adults learn, work and play. Yet, little emphasis has been placed on the health risks that arise from these changes in educational activity. The demand for appropriate school furniture is now urgent and in order to promote the health and well-being of future generations, the best possible school furniture is required. The introduction of European Standards EN1729 in 2006 has led to limited advances in pupil–centred furniture.
The aim of the project is to exploit the opportunity for knowledge transfer and new product development within a consortium of complementary researchers working in the field of Task Furniture in Education. ‘Task Furniture’ here refers to seating, desks and related items used by pupils in schools. The project is conceived and structured to research and develop new and innovative task furniture solutions addressing modern advances in teaching and learning, the integration of technology in the classroom and the postural implications for children and young adults in schools.
The initiative builds upon a strong foundation of the complementary experience and expertise in fields of research of the partners in TFE. In fulfilling the aim, it is intended to significantly narrow the gap between the known postural problems and the responses to them by the designers of the furniture currently available. Existing ergonomic research indicates serious long-term health problems being inflicted on children in our schools. This evidence only serves to highlight the corresponding deficit in design research that would examine creatively the potential for innovative, tested and proven, user-oriented furniture suitable for economic manufacture.
TFE commenced in January 2011 and run for four years. The total value of EU Commission funding is €1.33 million which will be matched by contributions from the partners. The project will be coordinated and led by researchers in NCAD in collaboration with academic and industry partners in Ireland, Germany, Portugal and the USA.