Steelcase Education Challenges Students to Design the Next Classroom

New Design Competition Empowers Student Designers to Rethink Learning Environments

Grand Rapids, MI, August 4, 2014— Who best to design the classroom of the future than students? Steelcase Education® and the Steelcase® Design Alliances teams have launched the NEXT Student Design Competition to encourage the creation of innovative active learning environments for the future.

College junior and senior level design students have the opportunity to compete against other Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA)-accredited programs across North America to create new learning environments. Deemed as NEXT University, students will develop new spaces for a new academic building at a small liberal arts institution. Students will be responsible for submitting a design for a large classroom, smaller active learning classrooms, a faculty center and a student WorkCafé. Using Steelcase products, the challenge is to design a learning environment for the future that helps increase student engagement and retention.

“Most education spaces today are decades old and as a result, inadequately support the needs of today’s students and educators,” said Madelyn Hankins Principal, Design Alliances at Steelcase. “As new pedagogies emerge, it’s an ideal time to explore how space can better support learning and improve student outcomes. Our goal for the NEXT Student Design Competition is to encourage the next generation of designers to look at classroom design problems in new ways and develop real world solutions that can adapt over time as students’ needs evolve.”

One grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a matching contribution to their school’s design program. All finalists will win an all-expense paid trip to Steelcase University in Grand Rapids, MI, to present the winning design to the panel of judges and meet with Steelcase executives. Finalists will also spend time with thought leaders and explore what’s NEXT in education, workplace and healthcare environments.

“At our core, Steelcase is research-driven and we often use classrooms as our labs,” said Jerry Holmes, Principal, Design Alliances at Steelcase. “We want to stay connected with what these young students have to say about what works most effectively in the classroom and what doesn’t. We’re eager to learn from these budding designers and see how they foresee the future learning environment.”

Entries can be part of a faculty-sponsored curriculum activity or an independent study. Interested professors of future designers can make this a part of their upcoming fall classwork. Floor plans are available for download now. Students are asked to submit their registrations by October 3, 2014 and final entries are due November 21, 2014. Finalists will be announced in December. There is no cost to students or schools to enter the competition.

To participate in the competition or for questions, email

Steelcase Education
As lifelong learners, Steelcase Education aims to make a difference in education. For students, educators and designers, we create the most effective, rewarding and inspiring learning spaces. As a dedicated group within Steelcase exclusively focused on education, we bring evidence-based design, technology and innovative solutions to education environments, wherever learning happens.

Media Contact
Lauren Macon