Adaptive Schools: Helping Students Learn and Retain More.

An active learning environment has no room for passive furniture. Today's learners require new dynamics.


Clusters - Unimpeded Access - Learning Zones – Movement

This blog dives into what makes a classroom a GREAT classroom for learning. The driving force behind the composition and layout of the 21st century classroom is collaborative learning - a student-centered learning model where the teacher is a manager and facilitator – not solely a lecturer. Let us take a look at how the 21st century schools are using these four pillars to change the way students learn.



Students work alone, in pairs or in small groups throughout the day. So desks need to be capable of forming compact pods or other groups. Research shows groups of four to five students work best. Collaborative learning is not about immobile students facing forward and listening to the “sage on the stage.” Rather, the teacher is a manager and facilitator of fluid learning pods, not solely a lecturer. For that to work, the classroom must have collaborative-friendly furnishings.

The Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC Charlotte advocates lightweight, movable and re-configurable furniture that can accommodate both a traditional classroom setting and work groups of various sizes. The Center also suggests:

  • Chairs on wheels to enable easy navigation
  • Carpet to enable easy navigation of furniture
  • Accessible power and data outlets
  • A room size that allows for easy reconfiguration during activities

Smith System, a K-12 classroom furniture manufacturer, offers a robust range of portable, re-configurable deskschairsstorage and power devices. Steve Pryor with Smith System says collaborative-friendly furnishings are essential to make the learning concept work well.

Unimpeded Access

The classroom of the future will be a place where technology, furniture, and the student intersect. If trends in classroom design continue, future classrooms may be quite similar to the blended learning classroom at Boody Jr. High. It will be a collaborative, multi-use environment, featuring flexible desks, chairs and tables, with the curriculum and furnishings designed to the student.

 DeSoto Independent School District iSTEAM3D environment.

DeSoto Independent School District iSTEAM3D environment.

The increased use of artificial intelligence, algorithms and computers will further shape classrooms. This means that connectivity via technology furniture will become an essential aspect of classroom design; the furniture should complement the use of technology, and the technology should enhance the experience of using the furniture.

Learning Zones


When DeSoto Independent School District in Texas decided to change its approach to secondary education, it rethought not only the curriculum structure, but also the learning environment.

Envisioning a New Learning Experience

As the vision committee of students, teachers, parents and community members discussed the new classroom designs, the impact and importance of furniture on the classroom experience came into the spotlight. The committee laid out what it wanted in furnishings: design to enable collaborative learning, durable to withstand heavy use from teenagers, flexible to allow learning anytime and anywhere, and professional-looking to set a mature tone.

The vision committee had a chance to review and test school furniture options from a variety of companies – moving tables, sitting in chairs, even standing on desktops. The quality, flexibility and durability of Smith System school furniture shone, especially when paired with the company’s willingness to collaborate and customize its products.

Smith System’s UXL Tables were selected for the College and Career Academies’ computer labs, while Flex Computer Stations allowed students to work individually or in pairs in classrooms. Customized Cascade Lectern Carts were the right combination of teaching tool and podium for increased lesson flexibility. Arc Desks matched the individual and collaborative learning goals in the district’s vision; the design of Intuit Chairs encouraged student attention and provided ergonomic support, and the built-in handholds allowed for portability throughout the classroom.


Since the updates, more than 100 new students from private schools and other districts have applied to study at DeSoto High School’s College and Career Academies. Smith System’s furniture solutions have enhanced teachers’ lesson plans, and instilled a sense of school pride in students. With a fresh look and fresh perspective, the new learning environment is helping students be prepared for what meets them after graduation day.


Most teachers know the health benefits of providing sit-stand desks in K-12 classrooms. Foremost, students have more energy to learn. But there’s another benefit that’s elbowing its way to the front of the line.

Personal empowerment.


For newcomers, sit-stand desks are just as they sound. The desktop is on a column that each individual student can easily and quickly adjust to the desired height. These ergonomically smart “floating” desks let students walk into class, instantly adjust their desk to their seating choice (or just stand), and get to work.

Some students may choose a low height and pair their desk with a standard chair. Some may raise it and sit on an exercise ball or stackable oodle stool. Others may choose the full height and stand or lean on the surface, with one foot casually propped on the desk’s base. Regardless, materials and digital devices are always at eye level.

The most important aspect is that the student, not the teacher, can intuitively personalize the desk on demand. Ideally, that happens with the quick tap of a hand lever to reach the perfect height.

Part of a Bigger “Move”ment

Sit-stand desks are part of the growing flexible-seating movement. Its premise is allowing students to choose where they work, their bodily position (sit, kneel, stand, lean, etc.), and degree of movement (still, rocking, fidgeting) that helps them learn best. Teachers/schools simply provide the options and guidance to make it work.


The goal is to create the ultimate flexible learning classroom by giving students some degree of choice and control over their environment; students are in charge of how they learn on any day. The benefit is the holy grail of educators: empowered students who, in turn, become engaged, productive students.

Case in point: Research done with adults by Craig Knight, a British organizational psychologist, concluded that “empowered offices” – in which workers can choose their conditions – can increase productivity by 25 percent.

What Science Says

The notion that sit-stand desks are good for us physically began in the workplace. Today, health experts widely agree that most of us should sit less, especially at work, which explains why sit-stand desks are no longer an anomaly in that adult setting.

While there hasn’t been a ton of research on the effectiveness of standing desks on children, early studies are promising, experts say. Learn more on how to select sit stand desks.

Teaching Students to Collaborate via @SmithSystem The content of this blog comes from Smith System.

For more information, pricing or to schedule a showroom tour, please contact:

Nancy Leach, President  | 615.620.4935

About FPi

FPi is a 22 year-old locally owned commercial furniture dealership that has been serving middle Tennessee and the southeast for over 22 years. In 2004, we spun off our installation department and FiS was formed. Owned and operated by Bob Culp, FiS has been FPi’s aligned installation partner for the last 14 years. FPi just completed a move of its own building out a new 6,000sf Kimball Showroom in Nashville’s Design District. As a Kimball Select Dealer, FPi has earned and enjoys a partnership with Kimball that offers the latest in commercial furniture integrated with technology and marketing resources available in the furniture industry.

Contact Us

Facility Planners Office & Showroom:

2934 Sidco Dr. Suite 110 Nashville, TN 37204

P 615.885.3300


Ergonomics and the Aging Workforce

Shifting Demographics

Workforce Demographics are Changing.
Are you Ready?
10,000 people are turning 65 every single day
and this will continue through 2030!

Ergonomics_And_ AgingWorkforce1.png

The aging workforce presents a challenge to industry—to design a safe and productive work environment to accommodate older workers.

  • Different shift preferences
  • Different training and learning styles
  • Tend to experience disfranchisement with their work and coworkers
  • Decreased reaction time and speed
  • Decreased manual dexterity and feedback
  • Increased body fat
"Ergonomics is about fitting the work to the worker”


FIVE ergonomics principles for an aging workforce:

Work in Neutral Postures:  Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on your musculoskeletal system.

Allow for Posture Changes: Working in the same posture or sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for you. Your body’s musculoskeletal (or movement) system is designed to move. Arrange workstations and tasks to allow for changing postures.

Work from the “Power Zone”: The power zone is also referred to as the “hand shake
zone”—this is an easy way to remember the optimal
location to perform work.

Provide good lighting: A common issue with older workers is lighting. Visual
acuity deteriorates with age, so make sure work areas
are properly lit.

Have a good grip: Providing “power grips” instead of pinch grips for jobs
and tasks is another ergonomics “low hanging fruit” to
help accommodate aging workers.



Humanscale Case Study: Rohde & Schwarz Build a New Image


Rohde & Schwarz Build a

New Image


FINDING THE RIGHT FIT Rohde & Schwarz, an international electronics group and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of communications and broadcasting equipment, has about 9,300 employees and representatives in more than 70 countries. The company is committed to delivering bespoke solutions for the world’s best industrial brands and also seeks to provide a healthy, beautiful working environment for its staff.

“ Humanscale products reflect our company ethos and philosophy in providing our staff with work tools to create a comfortable and safe working environment.” David Lew, Rohde & Schwarz facilities manager

In Singapore, where the regional headquarters is based and the team is responsible for managing all the Rohde & Schwarz businesses in the Eastern hemisphere, the company recently constructed a brand new office space. Completion of the space, including interior design and the purchase of new office furniture and equipment, took six months. When it came to seating, the team knew they wanted a modern aesthetic that enhanced the contemporary, light-filled office building. They were also influenced by new workplace health guidelines introduced by the Singaporean government that require employers to provide safe, comfortable seating and work tools for their staff.

Singapore’s focus on ergonomics in the workplace led Rohde & Schwarz to turn to the industry


leader, Humanscale, for chairs that combine ergonomic functionality with beautiful aesthetics. “It is very important to us to ensure the welfare of our employees at Rohde & Schwarz,” said David Lew, facilities manager, about the need for task chairs that provide exceptional comfort. “The first priority was comfort because many of our employees spend as long as nine hours a day at work. Aesthetic design was secondary.”


Although they were not familiar with Humanscale’s product lines, the representatives at Rohde & Schwarz were impressed by the variety of seating on offer when they first met with the Humanscale team. They were especially pleased with how the seating options were suitable for three-tier usage, at executive, boardroom and head of department levels, while the chair aesthetics seamlessly integrated into each environment without overpowering the space.

They met the Humanscale team at Singapore’s Schiavello showroom. The meeting came about by chance, Lew said, because the Schiavello showroom was in the same building as the company’s chosen interior designer.

“At the first meeting, all the benefits of Humanscale products were explained intensively, and colour samples and chair mock-ups were provided upon request,” he said.

The team evaluated other chairs from other manufacturers, but, ultimately, decided to go with Humanscale. They opted to outfit the space with three different chairs for each level: Freedom Headrest in leather for the executive seating, Freedom Headrest for boardroom seating and the Liberty chair for all staff.  In addition to the quality of Humanscale’s products, the aesthetics, which beautifully complement the interior design, were a deciding factor. “Humanscale offered a variety of chairs that were able to portray a consistent visual at the office,” said Lew. “We also considered the price and lead time, as well as the welfare of our staff and how the chairs complemented our overall brand image.”


Feedback from Rohde & Schwarz staff has been overwhelmingly positive. The automatic recline of all chairs is especially popular. Liberty’s Form-Sensing Mesh Technology, which ensures perfect lumbar support for every user, has also been praised for its comfort.


“The chairs are great,” said Procurement Executive Marilyn Tan. “They’re comfortable and easy to use and I’ve received many positive comments from my colleagues since we installed the new Humanscale chairs in our office.”

The representatives at Rohde & Schwarz said the experience of working with Humanscale was immensely positive and professional, and they would absolutely consider purchasing more products in the future. They were pleased that Humanscale’s focus on sustainability aligned with Rohde & Schwarz’s mission to “go green” and said they would highly recommend Humanscale to others.

“Humanscale products reflect our company ethos and philosophy in providing our staff with work tools to create a comfortable and safe working environment,” said Lew. “The chairs are ergonomic and fit our new build’s clean and simple aesthetics.”


2017 Project Review

You know we have been working diligently this year. We are so excited to share with you the amazing opportunities we have had this year working with Gresham Smith and Partners, Gilbert McLaughlin Casella, Sorci and Swords Design, IQuity, Gobbell Hays Partners, Kennon Calhoun Workshop and S/W Design Group. 

Each project came with its changes that we were glad to overcome with beautifully pleasing aesthetic furniture solutions.

We are thankful for our amazing staff and valued clients. We hope that 2017 has brought you much to be thankful for too and that 2018 brings love, peace and prosperity to all.

2016 FPI Furniture Installations

Year after year we are right there for our clients providing them with the right furniture solution. Facility Planners is happy to share our furniture solutions from 2016. This video includes custom furniture designs for multiple industries such as Corporate Offices, Marketing, Entertainment, and Healthcare, to name a few. Visit us at our new website for more on what we can do for you at or contact us at