Tools at Schools

The Tools at Schools (TAS) collection is the end result of the Tools at Schools program, an initiative designed to integrate design thinking into early education. For the program’s inaugural year, 44 eighth-grade students were asked to rethink the classroom, focusing on the iconic basics. Their cumulative ideas were incorporated into a singular and collaborative vision for the locker, desk and chair.

The objective was to instill in the students’ design thinking and creativity as a problem-solving tool for real-world solutions. It was the intent to focus on the process rather than end products, so the design reins were put in the hands of 14 year olds. However, to make the process truly applicable, their designs needed to be brought to life. Knowing that prototypes would be manufactured, the students were asked to focus on the attainability and craftsmanship of their designs.

The design team grounded the students and guided them to design solutions that are attainable for all audiences. 

The challenge then was to take the students’ final proposals, extract the strongest ideas and identify the most collective needs to create singular designs for each item—all while maintaining a cohesive voice for the collection. Furthermore, the design team had to finesse the concepts to a manufacturable state while ensuring the vision of the students had not been sacrificed.

Throughout the Tools at Schools process, the students expressed an overwhelming need for personalization in lockers and flexibility in the classroom and in classroom products that are an inspiring alternative to the boring classroom staples. This resulted in three designs: locker, desk and chair.

Credits: aruliden, Johan Liden, Rinat Aruh, Olivier Gregoire, Haney Awad, Frank Zaremba, Yifei Zha and The School at Columbia University: Class of 2015
Corporate Sponsor: Jerry Helling, Todd Campbell and Bernhardt Design
Contact: Johan Liden: