20 Oct VS North American Days in Germany – What we learnt
North American days is the keystone international event at VS. The event gives dealers from North America the opportunity to introduce architects, designers, and clients to the VS story and product line. Jonathan Morgan & Company attended with clients from Peace River North District, joining representatives from Saskatchewan and across the US. An important part of North American Days is exploring the integration of movement into learning spaces. This year saw a focus on the creation of progressive spaces for every type of learning method.
During the event, we heard from scientists/researchers, architects, designers, principals and teachers. The opening speakers included Architect David A Stubbs II and Dr. Dieter Breithecker, both regular speakers for VS and experts on pedagogy of space, and healthy school environments designed for movement, flexibility, and diversity.
Kerri Ranney, VP Educational practice at Huckabee Architects, Dr. Mary Moss Brown, the Founder and Head of Charlotte Lab School’s, and Dominic Liechti, Executive Director of Khan Lab School, all spoke about how their respective institutions are disrupting and shifting instructional culture and providing progressive learning spaces for children developing amidst a digital age.
The future of STEM education was also a hot topic, presented by the key architect, principal and STEM coordinator of Discovery STEM Academy, who are driving project based ‘real-world’ learning through a holistic approach to design and curriculum.
It was inspirational seeing educators recognizing schools can no longer plan around what THEY want for the space and what works for their budget. Instead they’re planning their spaces anticipating that each student learns differently, and are providing flexible learning environments to suit.
The VS factory facilities in Tauberbischofsheim manufacture their wood, plastic and steel products, with everything made to order. During the facilities tour, we visited VS’s testing facility, where they put each of their products through rigorous testing to ensure they meet European and North American safety and quality standards.
VS run many remarkable initiatives that make them a truly environmental and community focused organisation. This includes their onsite solar farm which generates energy to run the whole facility, with enough left over to feed back into the grid to power the local community.
In addition, VS runs woodworking, carpentry and mechanical trainee workshops, where local students can earn their apprenticeships with VS, aimed at keeping their young people working in town.
While the VS brand may be synonymous with high quality furniture for education facilities, we were reminded on our showroom tour that their office furniture offering is just as vast and impressive. With furniture lines designed by renowned architects Richard J. Neutra and Egon Eiermann, and Interior Designer Verner Panton.
Some of our favourite pieces on the showroom tour included:
- The Alpha Seating range in a natural nappa leather so soft to the touch it was hard to leave
- The Stratos chair with futuristic armrests made of 3-dimensionally shaped beech or oak plywood
- The RondoLift table gives teachers the freedom to move through a classroom, adjusting the height instantly with the pull of a hand switch
- The Shift+ Transfer mobile shelving elements with the versatility to create reading nooks, separate learning zones, and creative storage solutions in a matter minutes
VS School Museum
Here for the first time, the history of school furniture is presented and brought to life as part of our cultural history through a number of original and impressive historic exhibits. Including the original classroom bench seating from the 1800’s, through to the introduction of the individual student workstation in the early 20th century, and the flexible furniture options seen in todays 21st century learning environments.
During our museum visit we heard from local European designers and architects who shared stories of their alternative school designs and programs. One of those programs was the construction workshops run by Bauereignis Sütterlin Wagner; Where school children apply creative design and carpentry skills, under competent guidance, to design and build their own learning environments.
We were floored by the innovative design ideas and interactive programs being implemented throughout Europe. JM&C is proud to be working with VS, and excited to be playing a part in the changes being introduced in BC schools today.
Please Reach Out if your school is ready to implement a 21st century learning environment. We would love to be a part of your journey.