Curved banquette seating with wood privacy panels in serpentine design shown in casino
3. DOMINANCE OF TECHNOLOGY
Flat Screens and the Turn of the Century

Y2K THROWBACK!

With the advent of flat screens, university libraries looked for ways to provide group seating with access to computers, which now took up less space. Collaborative study with technology was really taking off, and furniture was needed to support these activities. Using the Hampton booth for group seating, we set about designing the work area and computer integration. We built access to data and power into the tabletops, with the hard drive mounted underneath for University of Florida, Smathers Library in 2000. (pictured on right) What a throwback! This early (group study with computer access) design would later lead to our Elements Media Station…

History of Modern Library Furniture

TECHNOLOGY IS AN EVER-EVOLVING LANDSCAPE

We adapted our furniture to support changes in technology. With bulky hard drives and CPU’s out of the way, we had more room for users. However, now users brought their own laptops. We designed the Elements Media Station with the option for connections for multiple laptops.

With larger flat screens, larger groups can collaborate with those in remote locations. Elements Media Stations at Cathedral Catholic High School (pictured on right) include the option of counter height seating along back booth panel, for the times when larger group collaborations are called for.

History of Modern Library Furniture

ARRAY OF CONFIGURATIONS

While doing our best to account for future technology transformations in our designs, one thing is constant: Maintaining the integrity of the Hampton booth seat, which ergonomically supports users who are performing table-top work.

Accommodating groups of all sizes, both the round and straight Hampton banquettes support the Elements media station. Add optional surrounds covered in fabric or veneers for ultimate privacy. For additional seating and workspace, add a back shelf and Sensi stools.

History of Modern Library Furniture
ADA Accessible Study Pod for Libraries

4. ADAPTABILITY

ACCESSIBILITY for People with Disabilities

Libraries have long worked to provide more ways for people with disabilities to access the same materials and services as their non-disabled peers. The passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 brought focus to accessibility in all public spaces. Architects and furniture designers looked for new ways to adapt spaces to be inclusive for all!

PRIVATE STUDY POD FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS

Everyone loves some private laptop workspace! Meeting ADA standards, the Pod Carrel gives patrons the comfort of a curved, partially-enclosed space. Fabric surrounds provide a pleasant, sound absorbing refuge. With room for a wheelchair to pull up to the table, accessible table surface height, and knee clearance, this carrel serves both wheelchair users and pull-up chair users. Each accessible computer workstation includes easy access to power located on the tabletop. The Pod Carrel pairs with wheelchairs and pull-up chairs, and also matches beautifully with the original POD. Pod Carrels can be combined to form a variety of shapes (as seen on left) or stand individually.

INCLUSIVE SEATING

Whether or not a person has a disability, there are some accessible features that we can all benefit from. We designed the Hampton booth with a shallow seat and an “inward angled” base to support easy-standing-up and an upright-study-sit. For even more adaptability, casters facilitate further, easy movement of the booth when a person is getting in and out.

Senior customers and people with mobility impairments appreciate the shallow seat and inward angle at the Hampton base, when standing up. This kind of seamless accessibility for people with activity limitations, integrated into product design throughout a space, benefits people of many abilities, making this a favorite for healthcare and senior living facilities, too.

FLEXIBILITY for Institutions

BALANCE BETWEEN MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY

Initially, many people thought casters were the answer to “flexible” spaces. Through trial and error, we learned that if you are going to rearrange the space often and want many different people to be able to move the furniture, then casters are a great solution. If you want to have more control over the space, or will not move the furniture often (perhaps over 6 months), but still want to be able to adapt to future changes, then you will want to limit the use of wheels. Middle Country Public Library (right) is a great example of a mobile solution. Custom Hampton booths with shelves demarcate the space between the reading area and cafe. When more space is needed in the reading area for a community function or class, almost anyone could quickly roll the booths to another arrangement.

mobile furniture in public library

FLEXIBLE OPTIONS USING 4 STRAIGHT BOOTHS

Here is an example of three possible arrangements using the same four booths:

  1. Two small group study arrangements side-by-side
  2. Row of small group study spaces back-to-back

Even without casters, these units can be rearranged fairly easily. The solid construction of Hamptons allows them to be pushed and picked up without jeopardizing stress points.

flexible options for booth seating
curved booth seating in two different configurations

flexible solutions for feelings of privacy or community

Curved Hampton booths are a flexible solution for spaces that want solid furniture today, but want to have the option to change their floor plan in the future. Curved booth segments in two continuous semi-circles create free standing rooms for people to have privacy while working together (shown far left). Curved modular units can be moved to serpentine connections for more of a communal feeling in a multi-purpose space (shown near left).

We have a customer who manages a Student Union in Florida. He tells us that he rearranges his Hampton booths (curved booths with panels -not on casters) every year, just to refresh the space!

Flexible curved booth seating using 2 and 3 segments

FLEXIBLE OPTIONS USING 2 OR 3 CURVED BOOTHS

  1. Connecting semi-curves for continuous enclosure
  2. Opposing semi-curves for face-to-face conversation
  3. Serpentine for long paths
Thanks for the overview of the major developments in Modern Library Furniture History, Joe!
Now, what do you see for the FUTURE of Library Furniture?

Technology will continue to evolve. It will become more compact and streamlined. More data access is becoming wireless. We’ll probably have wireless power in the future, too. This will impact layouts. More tasks are becoming automated. Students are even using AI in their studies. At the end of day, though, we’ll all still be human. People will always need other people. That’s human nature -we’re social creatures, and that won’t change.

If anything, technological advances might increase our need to be around other people. We’ll always want to both meet in groups, and be “alone” yet around other people. We’ll always be drawn to comfortable, secure spaces. Biophilic elements in public places continue to gain in popularity as designers and administrators place value on fulfilling innate human needs. Also, our social instincts to be around other people includes all people. Libraries continue to look for ways to make services accessible for people with disabilities. Spaces offering inclusion for many people, with access to elements of nature, such as sunlight, prospect and refuge, satisfy humans’ elemental needs.

It’s exciting! When I think about how much library furniture has changed, and how libraries are models for other public spaces, I’m inspired for our future. I remember in the 1990’s when libraries were filled with tables-and-chairs, carrels and tall bookshelves. That forward-thinking architect asked me to build restaurant-style booths for their library, and those booths have been evolving at a fast pace ever since.

Yes, the future for libraries will be continued flexibility for more changes. Along with supporting biophilic needs of security and comfort in seeking connections with nature and other people.

Check out PART 1 of the 4 Most Important Developments in Modern Library Furniture, where Joe shares his findings on FURNITURE AS ARCHITECTURE and HUMAN CENTERED DESIGN.

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High School Courtroom Furniture
DESIGNATED SPACE
ROOM FOR MOCK COURTROOM

We were blown away when we walked into this mock courtroom! Florin High School and Mr. Garcia did a fantastic job with this renovation, space planning and decorating! See all Florin High School Installation pictures here.

Elk Grove Unified School District’s Florin High School offers a Law Academy for students to explore careers in community service. 110 students in 10th-12th grade take Mock Trial, followed by a big competition at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Sacramento! We had the pleasure of meeting their Law Teacher, Carlos Garcia.

Classroom and courtroom in the same room
MULTI-FUNCTION SPACE
CLASSROOM DOUBLES AS COURTROOM

Since Mr. Jordan was teaching classes in the same room as the courtroom furniture, he opted to put everything on casters so they could push it all up against the wall when not in-use. As you can see in the photo, the classroom desks are facing the front of the room, while the courtroom furniture is in the back of the room. See all Jordan High School Installation pictures here.

Long Beach Unified School District’s Jordan High School serves 2500 students. JHS offers the LEAPS (Law, Emergency and Public Service) Pathway Program. All LEAPS freshman (185 students) take Intro to Law class. We had the pleasure of visiting their Law Teacher, Jeff Jordan.

PERSONALIZING YOUR COURTROOM
TEAM BUILDING AND RECOGNITION

Mr Garcia displays photographs of their Mock Trial Team students on the walls. What a powerful form of recognition for students! Mock Trial teaches teamwork skills and these visual displays of school unity really inspire a sense of camaraderie and cooperation!

Courtrooms can be an intimidating place for many people. Personal photographs bring a sense of familiarity, ownership, and safety to the space. These visual displays validate students’ presence and collective experiences within the learning space, so they can focus on learning about the legal system.

School courtroom ideas
DECORATING YOUR COURTROOM
INSTRUCTIONAL VISUALS

Mr. Jordan turned windows into stained glass symbols of Wisdom (Solomon), Justice (Lady of Justice), Law (Moses) and Truth (Lady of Truth). These ancient figures have long been represented in Supreme Court architecture through friezes and statues. Bringing these visual aids into the classroom facilitates learning through visual processing and contributes to an engaging learning experience. Not to mention, they bring a lot of uplifting color!

School courtroom decorations
high school judges bench

“Having the courtroom furniture gives a level of credibility to the law classes and gets students invested in the program. Mock Trial is the best way to build confidence in public speaking. Students come in scared, and they leave confident. They get to “slay the dragon” and learn how to think on their feet. Kids in the program have gone on to all kinds of careers. When they come back, they say that the public speaking in this class gave them confidence in other areas of life, too..”

Carlos Garcia, Teacher
Social Science/Law, Florin High School
Elk Grove Unified School District

AUTHENTIC COURTROOM ELEMENTS
HOW COOL IS THAT SUPERIOR COURT SEAL BEHIND THE JUDGES BENCH?

It was in a Judge’s Chambers, and FHS obtained it from an attorney to use for their law academy!

Authentic courtroom elements transform theoretical legal concepts into more tangible experiences, encouraging students to actively engage. When high school students are using a judge’s bench, witness stand, attorney tables and jury box, mock trials become more immersive and realistic. Simulating an actual courtroom, high school courtrooms help students prepare for larger mock trial competitions and any career, instilling a sense of confidence in their public speaking.

Law Academy Courtroom
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
VISUAL PROCESSING

Mr. Garcia told us that the first assignment he gives students is to sketch a floor plan of their courtroom, so they learn where people sit and why. For example, the jury box is always on the same side of the judge as the witness stand. The defendant and defense attorney are always the furthest away from the jury. This visual processing of the physical relationships in a courtroom gives a valuable understanding of the dynamics in legal proceedings.

seating relationships in a courtroom floor plan
High School Courtroom Furniture Rendering
CONSIDERING COURTROOM FURNITURE FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
WE ARE HERE TO HELP!

Not sure where to start? Contact us and we’ll walk you through it! We can help with space planning, renderings and customization. On the left is a rendering we made for Elk Grove High School.

Not sure how to pay for it? Look for Education Grants. There are many career-focused funding opportunities. For example, Elk Grove High School obtained California Partnership Academies (CPA) funding.

Want to do a little pre-work? Start by measuring your space and considering how your space will be used.

Just want to keep browsing? Check out our Courtroom Furniture Catalog

We would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Garcia and Mr. Jordan for allowing us into your high school classrooms. Thank you for sharing your spaces and experiences with us!

FURNITURE IN THE FIELD is a space where we highlight institutions using Agati Furniture and share feedback from the people using it. If you’d like to be featured, contact rashelle @ agati.com. See all FURNITURE IN THE FIELD posts here.