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Helpful Information

The traditional classroom which was designed for a teacher centric delivery mode is being replaced by 21st Century Learning Spaces to accommodate 21st Century Learners who are collaborators and communicators, and teachers who are becoming facilitators. These learning spaces incorporate modern instant technology, engage with the learners, enhance achievements and extend interaction with peers in collaborative groups

21st Century Learners are looking for new and modern ways to be engaged. Today they learn as part of a group, they are independent and self reliant. They are learning all the time; they are adept at and are relying on modern technology in every aspect of their lives. Collaborative learning and communication is important to them. The 21st Century Learning Space needs access to technology that is instant for both the facilitators and the learners.

The 21st Century Learning Space has the following spaces in it:


This is an area for instruction and presentations by an expert and peers. This area needs to be able to accommodate the entire learning group. It needs to be placed where it has access to whiteboards and/or projector screens for visual aids that the group can see. Thought need to be given to the arrangement so that the entire group has a clear line of sight to the presenter.

This area is generally furnished with soft seating and floor mats, but can also be arranged by using desks and tables.

Watering Holes

These are spaces for the learners to communicate and collaborate together by sharing information and discovery in groups of various sizes. Watering holes need to be in positions so that the group can see the discussions put up on the whiteboards and/or projector screens. The configuration should allow eye contact between each learner and facilitate discussion within the group.

The furniture in these spaces is generally mobile and shaped. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the furniture can be reconfigured quickly and easily into different configurations depending on the group's size. Therefore the furniture needs to be coming from the same family.

Different textured and different coloured tops can be used. Now there is the option of having writeable surfaces as table and desk tops.


These are private spaces where a learner can think and reflect, and do private study. Learners in caves can do solo work, research and discovery for presentation to their peers in either the campfire or a watering hole.

The caves can be anywhere in the space. Some learners like anchors in their caves. They like to sit against walls and other furniture so a floor mat is ideal for them. Some younger learners like to be under a table. Caves are generally furnished with floor mats, bean bags and ottomans.

All these spaces need to be flexible and adaptable, and easy to rearrange so the learners can move between the entire group setting, to smaller collaborative groups and individual settings easily.

Teachers are changing from being instructors to becoming facilitators. As a result of this, learning space designs need to be able to reflect these needs. Desks and tables need to be mobile and height adjustable. There needs to be a mixture of seating. Some learners work best sitting on a chair, some best on an ottoman and some on a flexible stool.

Often new learning spaces are designed and fitted out with furniture without any input from those people who will be using them – the facilitators and learners. In some cases this can cause stress and confusion, and can end up with the new furniture being put into rows all facing the front. Because of this, it is important to get input from the facilitators and learners when designing and developing the 21st Century Learning Space.

At Empire we recognize that selecting furniture can sometimes be a difficult and stressful process. To help you with both the furniture and colour selections for your 21st Century Learning Space, contact one of our showrooms and talk to our sales consultants. They will be able to guide you through this process.

Take advantage of our Projects team and utilise our qualified space planners and interior designers who will be able to advise you to ensure that not only is the best outcome is achieved, but it is functional and aesthetically pleasing. They can help guide you with product and colour selections and supply both 2D and 3D coloured designs of the learning space so you know how the space will look and work before buying.

When selecting furniture it is critical to ensure the right sized chair is selected for the height of the learner. It is also important to note that the heights of learners in a single classroom may vary according to their individual development, so there is no one size fits all for any particular age group.

  • Too high a chair and the learner has to lean forward putting strain on their back.
  • Too low a chair causes the learner to stretch to reach the desk which can cause muscle pain.

Below are our recommendations for the height of the desk corresponding to the height of the chair.

Chair Size
Desk Height
280h – 310h495h – 540h
335h – 355h555h – 580h
355h – 400h610h – 680h
440h – 460h720h – 760h

To help you select the correct height furniture, below are the heights of our various chairs and desks.

Empire's Chair Heights

Plato Chair
Proform Chair

VE Flex Chair

Empire's Desk & Table Heights

PODZ Height
Adjustable Tables
Empire Fixed
Height Desks

Studiwell Height
Adjustable Desks
Empire Height
Adjustable Desks



Classmate Tables
Timmy Tables

Mobile Flexible Furniture

In todays 21st Century Learning Space with Campfires, Watering Holes and Caves, it is important to have mobile furniture that is easily moved and adjusted, and can used to create the different areas for groups of learners of varying sizes.

Furniture in the 21st Learning Space is not just a static object to be sat on or sat at; it is a mobile adjustable aide to help in learning. When looking for flexible furniture it is critical that it be able to be used in more than one arrangement. Look for product families of desks and tables and ensure that they all can go together to make different configurations.

It is also important to look at the space each learner will have in each configuration, and to ensure they all have enough hard surface room on the table to complete each task. Ensure the chair you are selecting fits in between each of the legs of the table comfortably and that the castors do not get in the way.


Gone are the days of just having to select from a laminate range, now there are different surfaces available like writeable surfaces, compact laminate surfaces and natural surfaces to enhance the learning experience and further stimulate your 21st century learners.


The use of colour in the learning space can have a significant impact on emotion, and this can ultimately influence your learner's working and studying. Using different colours in the different learning space areas can also help to define those area's purpose whether that be quiet study areas, collaboration areas or an area for the entire class to gather.

The use of colour in a learning space should be used to maximize information retention and to stimulate participation.


Value is more than just the cost of the product. When buying furniture, the following should be taken into account to ascertain the true value, and to help you make an informed buying decision:

How helpful and knowledgeable are the sales consultants and how responsive are they to your needs?

What is the life cycle of the product? A longer life cycle reduces costs for repairs and replacement

What does the annual cost work out to over the life cycle?

Does the supplier have the products in stock?

What is the lead time for delivery of the product?

Does the lead time fit your schedule?

Do the supplier's deliveries arrive when promised?

What after sales service is offered?

Are there installation options available?

What is the warranty being offered?

Safety is Paramount

It is vital to ensure that the furniture that you purchase is safe. Ensure that the furniture you are buying is made to comply under the AS/NZS 4610 standard covering strength, durability, stability and safety of school furniture. Always check to ensure the board used is E0 to help keep you safe.

Empire's Products

Prior to us releasing any product it is properly researched to ensure that it is suitable for, and safe to use in the school environment. Talk to one of our sales consultants for them to demonstrate the extra level we go to in the construction and assembly of our product to ensure your personal safety.

A lot of thought has been put into the colour range of our products. You will find that the colour range we have introduced extends through the different families of products, so when you buy from us, you will have continuity of colour. You will also have access to the different surfaces types mentioned above. Also, by using our qualified Interior Designers, you will be able to ensure that not only is the space functional, but also that the colours compliment what the area is intended to be used for.

At Empire we understand that making decisions on what furniture to buy and from who can be a difficult decision. When you contact one of our showrooms and talk to our sales consultants, you will feel the Empire Experience. Our Sales Consultants are there to inform you and to help you deliver an affordable furniture solution that will be both delivered on time, and is suited to your project or day to day needs.