designed to move, enabling teaching staff to provide fully flexible space to suit different activities. Our double sided art easel, for example, is

designed for both painting and chalks with provision for a paper roll or individual sheets. The art table is detachable and can be used with the easel or as a stand-alone product to give teaching staff the greatest flexibility.


ringing any single product to market is a challenge, but creating a whole new range of furniture to suit the early years environment has been a feat of design innovation and planning. Havelock’s Design

Director John Gillespie tells us about the research and design inspiration behind their new IMAGINE furniture range.

Design-led innovation To start the process of creating a whole new range of furniture that inspires children to play, learn and grow we undertook very thorough research. Working with teachers, local authorities, and architects we identified common issues and key requirements. We held focus groups on everything from colours and finishes to innovative storage solutions that would be practical in the real everyday early years classroom. The research highlighted that we needed to

create products that enhanced play and the learning environment whilst providing mobile solutions that make exciting flexible spaces. Our experienced design team worked with

these concepts and developed a suite of unique products to meet the needs of the modern classroom.

Practical, versatile and fun Decisions about how the classroom or physical environment is arranged will depend on the

outlook and goals of the teacher. Our research produced some conflicting outcomes, with a few teachers asking for neutral finishes, allowing the children’s project artwork to bring the colour and inspiration, enabling a continual refresh to the space, whilst others were looking for bright colours to make the classroom modern and fun. We responded by producing a flexible colour palette and range of finishes. Our storage solutions and our unique products,

like our art easel and library seating, are available in white and maple wood finishes along with a great selection of highlight colours that can fit with any colour scheme. Our storage tray solutions bring multiple colours into play, alternatively, our natural wicker basket option provides a totally different look and feel.

Mobile flexible furniture The design of the learning environment influences how children feel, act, and behave. The physical space and setting allows growth and development through activities, often in defined play areas. Our solution provides products designed to move and reconfigure easily, to create different layouts and accommodate a variety of activities. Using a fresh, modern look and new types of finishes, we developed practical storage solutions and efficient space utilisation. The IMAGINE range can either complement

existing furniture or support the design for a whole classroom or school. IMAGINE products are available as a single item or as a whole FF&E solution with both fixed and loose elements. 95% of our manufactured storage units are mobile and

40 June 2018

Inspiring children to play, learn and grow One of the important elements of the early years curriculum is creative play and this featured heavily in our thought process. We manufactured prototypes and invited the most important people, school children, to test them out. Our Design Manager Scott Gilchrist was

involved in the product trial and noted “Children vote with their feet and during our tests it was obvious quite quickly which products were the most popular. You could tell how engaged the children were by each of the products and how this helped their imagination and their play.” The prototypes were then adjusted or changed

altogether, only the products which engendered a good reaction from the trials were included in the final IMAGINE range.

VR and 3D designs To help our users visualise classroom designs, all of the IMAGINE range products are modelled in 3D and have BIM information to level 2. Havelock

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