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Meeting Room with Ergonomic Rolling Chairs Around a Table

Flexible Furniture Makes Built-In Design Features Work – Santa Monica College

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  /    /  Flexible Furniture Makes Built-In Design Features Work – Santa Monica College

Flexible Furniture Makes Built-In Design Features Work – Santa Monica College

In 2018 when the multi-purpose Center for Media Design (CMD) facility at Santa Monica College opened, it featured a very contemporary modern design with extensive use of bright primary colors and built-in casework, a common practice when the design began nearly a decade earlier. However, the evolution of how education uses space differently today meant the older design stood in the way of meeting the new use requirements for the space. Our use of flexible furniture makes the built-in design features work, opening up spaces to multiple uses and making the facility  feel less “anchored.”  More photos of the brightly colored and beautifully designed and furnished space can be found in an article published in

Flexible Furniture Meets the Challenge of Built-In Design Features

For a variety of reasons, the College was committed to the built-in features of the CMD facility. This meant that the space utilization flexibility favored in today’s higher education environment required some skillful problem solving. We selected an innovative range of flexible furniture to meet changing space use needs in an otherwise fixed space.

Another challenge we faced came from the project’s long design and implementation period, which covered a span of five years. Many styles, textures and finishes we originally selected for the design were no longer available. Fortunately, since we were a design partner from the get-go, we understood the design objectives and were able to provide solutions that met the original design intent, and bring it in under the College’s budget.

Adding Versatility to a Conference Room with Fixed Bench Seating

A central design feature in the main CMD conference room was fixed bench seating along the wall. To make the best use of this feature, we chose a sleek Haworth Planes conference table. It provides ample work space in a compact size. The chairs are taken from the Haworth Very family. Every chair in this family has the same texture and finish, making it the ideal choice when you want to maintain a design element without being limited to one style. The flexible furniture we provided added much needed versatility to a traditional conference room.

Classroom Flexibility

Several classrooms are furnished with smaller Haworth Planes tables. These tables can be paired to make longer side-by-side seating common in lecture settings. In addition, they accommodate power and data connections so students can plug in their laptops. They also have a top that can be flipped and the tables nested to create an open space. Now staff and students have the flexibility to match the layout to the educational need.

We selected the Haworth Very Conference Chair in bright orange for student seating. An innovative feature of this chair is it’s poly construction and intuitive recline feature. The chair allows the student to rock and shift position to maintain comfort. The intuitive recline allows the chair to “anticipate” how the student is going to move and automatically adjusts to that position.

Monochromatic Traditional Classroom

Other CMD classrooms receive a totally different treatment. These rooms are finished in monochromatic white surfaces. To maintain that design element, we used the traditional, old school single piece chair, storage and work surface seating solution from KI. These aren’t the wooden models from the 70’s. They’ve been updated with graffiti-resistant poly surfaces and chrome metal supports. The color chosen? White, of course.

Computer “Bar”

Another area dominated by built-in work and seating elements is a space where students can sit outside the classroom and complete assignments on their laptops. Work surfaces line the walls where the students can power up their computers and work on a stable surface, creating in effect a computer “bar.” Seating for this area is the Haworth Very Wire Stacking chair.

Flexible Furniture Makes Fixed Design Features Work – Let Us Show You How

Working with a space design with built-in features can be especially challenging. If this describes your situation, we encourage you to contact us and see how flexible furniture can make your fixed design features work. Contact us, call 818.735.0333 or email us at to learn more about interior design and furniture for education.

Design Team: Clive Wilkinson