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Southwark schools exhibit chairs at Design Museum

London SE1 website team

Chairs designed by pupils from Southwark primary schools have been on display at the Design Museum this weekend.

chairs at the design  museum

Pupils from Charles Dickens, Grange, Joseph Lancaster, Snowsfields, St Joseph's and Tower Bridge primary schools took part in the project.

The Design Museum has been supported by the Pool of London Partnership over a two year period to work and develop links with 12 local primary schools in Southwark and Tower Hamlets. This has included visits to the Design Museum for nearly 1,000 primary aged children, professional development opportunities for their teachers, the development of education resources packs to support children's design-and-make skills both at the museum and back at school, and finally this exhibition of work created by children during Year 2 of the project.

This exhibition is a culmination of Year 2 of the project which began with a half day visit to the museum to introduce the children to the museum's chair handling collection. This allowed them to explore, investigate, question and evaluate a unique selection of collapsible modern chairs. The young designers made careful observational drawings of the foldable chairs, handled and assembled them while thinking about the key design elements – function, aesthetics, features, materials, target audience and manufacturing processes. They also enjoyed time studying and researching the extensive chair collection in the Designing Modern Life exhibition, stimulating ideas for their own designs.

chairs at the design  museum

After the museum workshops, fuelled with ideas, the children were asked to collect recycled materials from home and begin thinking about their possible uses for chair making. Using recycled materials such as cardboard boxes and paper in the project, encouraged a positive attitude towards finding creative solutions and uses for materials we frequently discard.

The materials which the children collected dictated the scale and design of the chairs they made in the subsequent outreach workshops at their schools. The techniques and skills taught by the workshop leaders during these sessions focussed the children on simple model making techniques as well as incorporating basic traditional handcrafts used in professional chair making, such as weaving, binding and sewing. Each school group of children followed a set framework for a full day of designing and making.

At the end of the workshop the young designers were given the final task of selecting the chairs which have been on display this weekend . They had to decide on the best made and the most imaginative chair from the group, not an easy decision due to the high standard of work made by the children. The teacher and workshop leaders were also each asked to select a chair.

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