If we had to focus on just three factors as most important in the manufacture of school furniture, without hesitation we would choose: maintainability, versatility and ergonomics.
It doesn’t matter what order the factors are listed in because with school furniture, there are three groups involved: manufacturers; schools and colleges, who are the customer; and – last but not least – the students and teachers who use the furniture.
Each group attributes greater importance to one of those factors: maintainability, versatility and ergonomics. Of course, the other two factors and everything else involved in the manufacture of school furniture are still important to them.
As if by common accord, a few years ago school furniture manufacturers set about dispelling the perception of their products as unhealthy, ugly and boring.
It is perhaps surprising that they didn’t focus on how hard-wearing their products are. School furniture was traditionally as solid, hard-wearing and tough as the carbon in the sparkliest diamond, just not as fine.
Manufacturers’ efforts have been focused on producing sleeker, more dynamic and more versatile furniture, starting with stackable multi-function items that allow classrooms, common rooms and school halls to easily be arranged in different ways without damaging the furniture by stacking heavy tables and chairs on each other, as used to happen.
Manufacturers were in synch with the times: schools were changing, and the design and manufacture of school furniture was changing.
And of course, innovations, designs and the spirit of the times required innovation in terms of materials, to incorporate the more durable, versatile and, naturally, more sustainable components being adopted by the industry more widely.
And manufacturers of school furniture were able to meet the more modern, more extensive requirements of schools and colleges who demanded – and continue to demand – contemporary furniture and equipment suitable for delivery of the school curriculum to people with disabilities and, most of all, furniture that is hard-wearing in terms of both materials and maintenance.
Storm warning: here’s one of the best-kept secrets of leading manufacturers of school furniture with lots of loyal customers: use good materials, have good designers and work with the best customers. A prize-winning combination. But to be sure of winning the gold medal, we must add: build customer loyalty and keep on developing the product portfolio.
How can we do it? Drawing on something that is very much in vogue: sustainability.
Schools want materials with the contemporary characteristics we have already mentioned, but they also want furniture to last and be easy to repair and swap in new parts rather than buying new again.
And that, dear manufacturers of school furniture, is the great secret, the long-term availability of catalogue items to ensure that customers can obtain spare parts – from handles, knobs or legs to shelf brackets chair seats and the fixings for that part.
And so that you don’t discontinue all those parts, remember that for manufacturers of products with longer useful lives, long-term maintainability is key.
We’ve given you the secret and the key, use them to capture and retain customers. Guaranteed success.
What about ergonomics? Any new product that can be shown to maintain and promote physical wellbeing immediately becomes one of the manufacturer’s top five products.
Remember that school furniture’s reputation as being bad for the back and the bodies of children and teachers is relatively new. Just a few years ago, some people insisted that classroom furniture – especially chairs – should be uncomfortable so as to prevent laziness and daydreaming. Really!
Those same people also used to boast that they believed in principles such as ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. No comment.
Such opinions are no longer heard today of course, maybe some people still think like that, but their views are irrelevant to our theme because if a 21st century furniture manufacturer were to work along those lines, they would be finished. They would sink into the murk of a bygone age with scant chances of recovering a viable reputation.
Maintenance, versatility and ergonomics.
Different customers will have different rankings, but regardless of order these three factors represent a new conception of school furniture that now prevails. And now that you know the secret and have the key, you will use it to turn your furniture factory into an outstanding source of the best furniture for the places where the leaders of tomorrow spend so much time.