We see the FSC-sponsored competition "Going with the Grain" as an opportunity to address a topic we care deeply about as a firm and as dedicated design professionals. Charter Schools are an ever growing presence across the US and they play an increasingly important role in our country’s educational system. As a New York City-based firm that focuses on children’s facilities, we have witnessed first-hand the difficulties Charter School start-ups face when trying to secure a safe, nurturing environment for their prospective students. A Charter School’s incremental growth as an institution and a community, combined with a five-year charter renewal process, leads schools down an often unpredictable path. Coupled with a volatile real-estate market, it is imperative that Charter Schools be flexible and ready to adapt to any given environment.
There are many steps toward a well-designed educational facility - some large, others small - but we believe each one is integral. The impact furnishing a classroom or other learning environment has on the school community should not be underestimated. "Going with the Grain" is an ideal setting to explore new alternatives in the production and application of educational furniture. Clearly, as we work toward enjoying a more responsible relationship with our environment, it is critical that we educate children in an atmosphere where sustainability is a priority. The avenues of exploration encouraged by the competition - flat-pack shipment, easy assembly and disassembly, economical and sustainable mindedness - speak directly to the unique challenges Charter School facilities face.
FLITCH (Bench) is a smart, versatile piece of children’s furniture that gets to the heart of the competition’s objective. Capitalizing on the efficiency and precision of CNC technology, the bench is assembled from a single sheet of plywood generating minimal waste. It exploits the beauty of the material with the repetition of its cross grain lams, while employing the simplicity of its design as a tension-bound piece stabilized by its own weight. The end result is a fun, durable, multi-functional bench / book shelf that offers accessibility to young children in scale, stability and form. While FLITCH (Bench) is too heavy to tip under the weight of a child, it can be easily lifted and relocated as desired. Offering two seating heights as a bench and a comfortable, user-friendly display for books, FLITCH can outfit an entire children’s library or a small reading nook with a single, clever, flexible and affordable design.