How would you improve the tablet desk?
In your mind’s eye, think of a tablet desk. Below are a couple of very old examples, but for the most part they don’t look that different today. How would you improve its design? Make it lighter, more durable, more comfortable, ambidextrous?
The Node Chair
Steelcase is a prominent office furniture designer and manufacturer. They claim that their “furniture is inspired by innovative research in workspace design”.
Steelcase designed a new classroom chair in conjunction with IDEO, a design and consulting firm. What they seized on was the need for flexible configuration and personal item storage.
What they call the Node Chair has clever features like a comfortable, ergonomic design, but my favorite is the large storage area under the seat for backpacks.
Whether you are a student or attending a hands on conference or training session, chances are you have a bag and a chair. Normally when you reorganize the chairs to meet in groups, bags get left behind causing inconvenience and even anxiety.
Including storage under the chair lets you draw your chair and your baggage along together and keeps the space between chairs free of tripping hazards. The chairs even roll and swivel for easier group collaboration and reorganization.
These differences in design from standard tablet chairs stem from a careful observation of how people use chairs
A problem like “what do I do with my bag” may not come up with direct interviews of people when asked what they want from a chair. You’d only notice the problem if you watched a whole class progress.
Observation is the clearest path to identifying the need for storage. The designers empathized with the users.
This is what we mean by “human centered” design.