The TEDx talk above is a treat, presented by two faculty members of the d. school (Design) at Stanford, one of them, Scott Witthoft, an alumnus of our school, St. Gregory, and a great example of what we mean when we say we “create innovators.”  Scott Doorley is his colleague; their titles are co-directors of the Environment Collaborative .

The talk is engaging and visually enriched by the slides; it should be said that it is not particularly detailed, comprehensive, or sophisticated. It serves as a lovely prompt to think more carefully about what we want furniture to do for us, and their specific topic, though not deeply explored, is what we want furniture to do in classrooms to promote creativity.

Some key quotes:

We think about tables a lot,  not for what they are but for what they do.

What role do you want a table to play in a creative learning environment or experience?

We think of creative spaces as spaces where people make things, like a Fab Lab, or any places where an idea gets embodied or advanced:  Where do the ideas lead students? What are their next steps?  A critical aspect of designing that table or that experience is leaving room to evolve.

What aspects of the table, of the infrastructure, do you want to leverage for creativity?  The answer is being deliberate about the items you are using.

How can you provide the infrastructure so all participants can be engaged in different ways–standing, sitting, moving– all based on the same source?

What properties do you want a table to embody to facilitate an experience?

By tweaking just a few properties, and being intentional about your use of furniture and space, you can make a big change in education.

The heart of their talk offers five different structural principles and properties of what a table can do, with the idea that by recognizing these principles or properties, and being intentional about your use of them, you can influence greatly what happens around these tables.  The five, are as follows:

[All images are screenshots from their TEDx talk.]

For more from Witthoft and Doorley: