Focus, Higher Education, and Manufacturing

American Seating products focus on new teaching model

Furniture designed to keep up with students and teachers, who are becoming more mobile.

June 6, 2014
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American Educational Seating
The rely table system is designed with flexibility and mobility to meet the needs in today's classrooms. Courtesy American Seating

Say goodbye to the “sage on the stage,” said Deb McDermott, vice president of marketing at American Seating.

McDermott was talking about the popular lecture-style teaching that has always dominated classroom learning, particularly in higher education.

Rather than standing at the head of the classroom and giving an hour-long lecture, professors today are more likely to spend 10 or 20 minutes presenting new material before the class breaks into groups for small group discussion or project work.

McDermott said that mode of teaching is known as “guide-by-the-side,” and requires very different types of furniture from what American Seating used to produce for the classroom.

Since its inception, American Seating has produced product lines for the education environment. It became known for its bolted-to-the-ground products in school auditoriums, lecture halls and performing arts centers. Now the company is focused on creating flexible classroom options that can support different types of learning styles and education needs.

“We’ve been in the education business for 128 years and we are continuing to evolve with the changing teaching and learning styles,” McDermott said. “When you get to be 128 years old it’s very important to stay relevant and focused on what’s next, and that is what we are doing.”

McDermott said classrooms are becoming more active and collaborative spaces, which means furniture needs to be adaptable.

At NeoCon this year the company is introducing the Nima chair and the Rely Table System, both of which are targeted to meet the needs of the higher education market.

“The need to create a table system that can be extremely flexible and mobile and take you from that lecture mode or presentation mode into discussion or peer-to-peer collaboration, that need is just exploding in the higher education market,” she said. Hence, the Rely Table System.

“The Rely system is a table system that gives you everything from a personal table all the way up to a conference table; tables that will flip and nest and store out of the way.”

The table system also includes lecterns and marker boards.

The company also has created a line of chairs known as Nima, which was designed by Italian designer Giancarlo Piretti — the first collaborative effort between American Seating and Piretti.

The Nima product line was designed for maximum comfort during long stretches of sitting.

McDermott said it’s unique because the chair flexes at the hip joint providing greater support to the user.

“It gives you a wonderful flexing motion that supports you all the way through the back,” she said. “Some chairs that are out there today flex a little bit in the back, but they start at the shoulder blade, which isn’t as comfortable as if you take that motion all the way through to the hip joint.”

The complete collection will include a four-leg chair; a four-leg chair with casters; a sled-base chair; a caster-base chair; and a counter and stool height chair.

Five models of the chair will be on display in the American Seating showroom at NeoCon, as will a video featuring Piretti talking about the chair design and concept. Three different flip-and-nest versions of the Rely Table System also will be set up for viewing.

The company also will launch an overhauled website during NeoCon, which McDermott said will be user friendly and provides image-based navigation to help customers easily search for the products they want.

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