10 Higher Education Design Trends: Part 1
1: Placemaking – THE MOST important thing for Universities, Colleges, and campuses is to stand out and be a place that visiting students & families remember. Incoming and even current students want to feel like their higher education college or university is a community above all. They want to be a part of something larger. This is why we are seeing a greater push for branding interiors and creating experiences instead of, “can you make my space look pretty?” Experiencing a college history, brand, and values can happen just by walking through a well thought-out and intentional space.
2: Flexibility – Students, teachers, faculty, professors, electricians, IT department and facilities management (to name a few) ALL want flexible furniture solutions! Forget the days of bolted down desks, fixed seating and teacher centered learning. We’re seeing substantial pushes towards student centered learning, group work breakouts in the classrooms, and settings for different professors that share the same classrooms. Furniture on casters, height adjustability, flip furniture that can easily nest (think shopping carts) are just some of the ways we achieve flexibility in a space.
3: POWER! – No, no…not superpowers. Although, we don’t know who WOULDN’T want superpowers! Students want power that is easily accessible At. All. Times. Have you ever seen a millennial without an iPad, iPhone, or iThing in their hand? Yeah, we haven’t either. Students like to work in many different ways and on many different mediums. Plugs that provide access to power in the hallways, in classrooms, breakout areas, and common areas are a MUST on today’s campus.
4: Learning Outside the Classroom – The professor ends class, but not before assigning you a new group project. You need to gather your team’s information, phone numbers, and decide what time is best for everyone to meet—but there’s just one problem. The next class is waiting outside the door to come raging in to sit down and cram those precious 5 minutes before their exam. Where do you go to meet? We love to design nooks and common areas just outside the classrooms. This is a place where there might be lounge seating or a standing height table with stools where you can hang your backpack up, grab your phone to put those digits in the contact list and leave. These have proved to be successful for all kinds of meet-ups, whether intentional or spontaneous.
5: Use of Color – We hardly see universities or colleges with stark white walls, floors, ceilings, and furniture. The use of color in a space can evoke moods, enhance experiences, or serve as a wayfinding element. As Interior Designers we LOVE color and students do too! The easiest way to provide a big impact with small risk is paint. Paint is easy to change, cheaper than carpet or furniture upholstery, and a great way to provide branding colors, wayfinding, or visual enhancement to a spaces.