As the workforce demands more agile, innovative employees, the skills required from future job seekers are not the same as they once were. Passive learning and industrial education systems are outmoded – they simply won’t facilitate the same level of thinking required for students to succeed in the future.

Instead, students today are encouraged to embrace the 6Cs of 21st century learning.

  • Critical Thinking
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Connectivity
  • Culture

Unfortunately, while curriculum and pedagogy can evolve, education advances are stymied not only by the traditional classroom design of rows of chairs and desks facing front, but traditional school furniture as well. Think thick, heavy, immovable desks; chairs with tiny tables ideal only for individual work; and hard uncomfortable seats which distract from engagement in the classroom.

Understanding the integral role of furniture and learning spaces in transforming education, we set out to create unique and innovative designs that would enhance learning engagement.

Furniture and next generation learning spaces that facilitate 21st century learning need to be designed to encourage student engagement in order to help students cultivate the 6Cs. The question is how can educators ensure that their learning spaces and furniture can achieve this?


Rows of desks facing forward are conducive only to passive learning. To increase engagement in the classroom, pedagogy and learning space design has evolved to become student-centered. Furniture needs to empower students to take ownership of their learning experience. In order to do so, learners need to be able to quickly reconfigure their classrooms to suit their preferred working style and the task at hand. Lightweight and easily movable furniture is essential, but it also needs to be robust enough to meet the needs of an educational environment and heavy use by students.

Suited to a Variety of Needs

The same type of seat and surface for every student unfortunately will not cut it anymore. Any teacher will recognize a wide range of needs and preferences for each of their students. There is the visual learner, the restless learner, the tactile learner, learners who prefer to sit high, those who are comfortable tucked away from others, and the list goes on. NorvaNivel recognizes the different requirements of all types of students, and its range of furniture has features that address all of the different senses and modalities of learning.


Furniture for 21st century learning environments often have qualities of comfort versus traditional furniture – soft edges, soft seating, smooth textures, among other design mechanisms. Some educators worry that students will be too comfortable and easily distracted! For most the opposite is true. Instead of being distracted by hard seating and pain, which causes restlessness after a short period, a student that is more comfortable can truly be engaged.

Conducive to Collaboration

While traditional desks can be arranged into different configurations, flexible furniture for next generation learning spaces is actually designed specifically for group collaboration. NorvaNivel’s PLEKTRUM™ Table, for example, is designed as a soft triangle. The shape encourages small groups of learners to lean in and work closely together. Available with an optional writable surface, learners can capture notes and ideas easily. Their Flip Tables with writable surfaces allow groups to work together and then present ideas to the whole class.

Enhances Concentration

Different types of learners work better in different situations. The tactile learner concentrates better when their hands are kept busy. For the restless learner, slight movement can enhance concentration. When students’ needs are being met in their learning environment they can fully engage in the classroom.


Researchers, educators, and psychologists have determined a number of different ways children and adults learn best. No longer is it appropriate for students to try to sit quietly at their old school desks as the teacher stands lecturing in the front of the classroom. The experts have identified multiple types of learners, each who learn primarily through different senses. All of these learners are present in every single classroom in the world. We collaborate with schools to create inclusive learning environments to meet the needs of all of these learners.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Google+

To Cast or Not to Cast: Using Casters with Purpose

Casters are great when they are purposefully integrated into the balanced learning environment; however, it is a common misconception that, in a future-ready learning environment, all furniture needs to be on casters. Casters are important to ensure an ease of...

Seats Without Backs? The Facts on Going Backless

Sitting on the edge of your seat is a sure sign of engagement! At NorvaNivel, we design and manufacture seats, but not chairs. For those transitioning to our flexible learning spaces, questions can arise around seats without backs. From research and experience we know...

The Story behind…. the GRASSYOTT™ Ottoman

Two students on a medium GRASSYOTT ottoman in a library space THE GRASSYOTT ottoman is just what nature ordered! The GRASSYOTT ottoman provides learners with a natural feeling and comforting material. These dome shaped seats come in three different sizes, and all are...


Learning environments are a question of equity. What works for one learner doesn’t necessarily work for the other. Effective learning spaces need to meet the diverse needs of ALL learners. Educators who embrace this understand that the learning environment plays an...

The Incredible Multipurpose GENGA Blocks

Gone are the days of wooden desks neatly aligned in a row in a classroom. It has been a slow change in education with most classrooms looking the same for the last few centuries. Finally, needed changes are taking place for the benefit of the students. No longer are...

How to Take Care of Your Whiteboard Tables

Our writable surface options are one of our most requested items to date and for good reason! They allow for learners to compose their notes and share them in a collaborative environment with peers and educators. When combined with a foldable table like our...

The changing face of learning spaces

Contemporary education is more dynamic, engaging and student-centered.New generations require new ways of teaching and learning and adaptability is key.At NorvaNivel, we’re passionate about the education environment, which is why we’ve been designing furniture for...

The story behind… ROCKER OTT™

At NorvaNivel, we recognize that students learn in a variety of ways. In an agile learning space, the notion that students need to sit still for long periods of time is a largely antiquated perspective. Schools in Finland embrace 15-minute breaks on an hourly basis....

The Story Behind… CLOUDIE™ Table

Gone are the days of rows and rows of desks, with all students facing the front of the classroom towards the teacher. The industry has shifted away from industrial learning with student desks to student-centered pedagogies, and learning spaces have followed...