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With another academic year behind us, we’ve seen education rapidly evolve in terms of the way we teach and learn, and this is reflected in the current school interior design trends. With new cutting-edge technology, practical school furniture solutions and inspiring design schemes, there are plenty of exciting developments in the education sector.

Some of the developments we’ve seen are down to the pandemic, with many of the once temporary measures becoming permanent fixtures. This has serendipitously helped to enhance the learning experience and triggered an education design revolution.

With these aspects in mind, we have put together a blog highlighting our favourite school interior design trends for 2023. Whether you’re a teacher looking for classroom inspiration or simply a design enthusiast, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here!

1. Feature Walls

Feature walls are continuing to grow in popularity, and it’s easy to see why! In addition to creating a striking focal point, they can help to create a desired atmosphere and reflect a classroom’s subject.

Take these as an example:

  • Nature Inspired – That great thing about feature walls is that they can offer practical solutions while simultaneously making a visual impact. For example, at Oakfield Prep School the branches of a tree double up as a bookshelf, providing extra storage for books.  The nature theme is perfect for the library too, helping to create a calming atmosphere.
  • Ocean Themed – Like nature-inspired feature walls, the ocean theme works well in libraries due to its calming influence. For example, at St John’s in Ealing, we introduced a wave-themed feature wall behind the teacher’s desk for an overall sense of relaxation.
  • Tech Inspired – Glowing LED walls are great for IT classrooms due to the way they reflect the subject. Check out the Matrix-style feature wall for the IT suite above – designed to inspire the coders of tomorrow!

2. Cool Acoustics

Schools can be loud and noisy spaces, which can then cause a distraction for students.  A practical design solution is to introduce decorative acoustic elements that also add aesthetic interest to a space.

For example, you could use nature-themed acoustic ceiling panels, making an eye-catching design feature whilst reducing noise pollution. Another inspirational use of noise-cancelling elements can be seen in our Haringey Sixth Form project, which contains bird-shaped hanging acoustics and lego-style panels.

3. Zoning for Classrooms

Implementing zones can be hugely beneficial to schools. Through creative space planning, schools can meet the many demands of teachers and students while making the learning experience fun and engaging. Of course, many factors will determine how a space could be zoned, such as the learning age of students, nature of the subject, and number of students and staff working in the space.

Some typical ideas for zones within a classroom include open group areas for discussion, clusters of desks for group work, soft seating areas for independent reading, or research zones with tablets. For a good example, take a look at our Haringey Sixth Form College project, which includes a multitude of zones for a heightened learning experience.

4. Versatile Classroom Spaces

Covid-19 saw teaching and learning practices change dramatically, with remote learning and social distancing taking place during lessons. Challenging as these times were, some of the teaching approaches and strategies have remained, offering more options and flexibility for the students’ learning.

Many of these new initiatives involve more online learning as well as changes in the use of space and groupings of a class.  As a result, teachers have more versatile options for their delivery of teaching and can personalise their students’ individual learning journey.

This is all made possible through the integration of technology, such as USB ports for laptops and tablets and large TV screens (often built into teaching walls). Combined with careful space planning and a selection of portable school furniture, teachers can configure their classroom space in multiple ways to benefit the students’ learning experience and increase engagement.

5. Carefully Considered Colour

The use of colour within school interiors plays a significant role in creating a particular atmosphere. This will vary around the school site depending on the purpose of each space.

Here are some examples:

  • Calming Staff Rooms – For staff rooms, it’s a good idea to use soft pastel colours to create a calm, tranquil environment for teachers in need of a well-deserved break! Alternatively, you could combine bright, uplifting colours with white for a morale-boosting effect, like the example above.
  • Branded Reception Areas – A reception area is usually the first space a person sees within the school, so it’s important to make a good first impression. The choice of colours and can contribute to this, and it can be as simple as using the school’s branding for inspiration. By using the school’s unique colour scheme and branding elements, the reception can affirm the school’s identity. Take a look at how we created a memorable experience for guests at St Mary Magdalene’s reception in London.
  • Colour Coding – Colour coding is a helpful strategy within school interior design to indicate particular use of space or furniture. This could include creating and identifying seating plans for classrooms; for example, in a reception class at a primary school, children will know if they sit on the blue table or the red table. For a great example of colour coding, take a look at our Holy Trinity project here.


6. Wellbeing Elements

Schools are putting a large focus on student and staff wellbeing these days. This can be significantly supported by the design of the school, including the following elements:

  • Biophilic Design – Plants and other natural design elements can promote a calm environment, connect people with nature, and of course make the space visually appealing. For an outside-the-box idea, consider introducing a library with faux-nature theme, including woodland forest-inspired furniture, leaf-shaped acoustics, and a green colour scheme – ideal for early learning ages. We did just that for Oakfield Primary School, which you can see here.
  • A Choice of Staffroom Furniture – The choice of appropriate school furniture is key in the wellbeing of staff. Furniture needs to be comfortable and supportive, offering opportunity for people to relax and de-stress. Modular furniture that can be re-configured provides flexibility for staff to use as needed, enabling more social interaction between colleagues.
  • Inspiring Wall Art – Wall art and decals of positive motivational quotes can give a great boost of morale, increase motivation and have visual impact and a focal point in the space. These also provide opportunities to educate students on different cultures, diversity and inspirational people.  A fantastic example of this can be seen again in our design and refurbishment project at Haringey Sixth Form College, with wall art featuring Nelson Mandela and one of his inspirational quotes.

7. Gender Neutral Washrooms

With gender and identity becoming more important in our modern society, gender neutral toilets help to promote inclusivity. For example, at Walthamstow Academy in London, we transformed the school’s washrooms by introducing spacious full height cubicles and a configuring the space in an open-plan layout.

The full height cubicles offer private, neutral toilets for all, while the open plan layout allows passing staff to monitor the area to combat bullying and truancy. Take a look at the Walthamstow Academy project here.

8. Eco-Friendly Elements

Schools are continuing to play their role in making a positive impact to the world we live in. In addition to educating young people on environmental matters, many instil a green ethos through school interior design.

For example, schools can be eco-friendly in their choice of sustainable furniture and incorporating energy efficient energy sources within a design, such as motion sensor lighting to save energy and dual flush systems to save water.

Decorations can also play a part, with wall art raising awareness of the environment. This could be a quote from a respected individual like David Attenborough, who recently said, “It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.” Surely that will inspire the eco-warriors of the future!


Thank You for Reading Our School Interior Design Trends 2023 Blog

It is clear that the nature of education is ever evolving and becoming more diverse to engage students, personalise their individual learning journeys and needs as well as supporting their staff within these establishments.  Luckily with careful and imaginative school interior design, learning can be made fun for all and make a positive impact on the success of every individual.

For more inspiration you can take a look at some of our previous projects here.

Are You Considering a School Refurbishment?

Balancing the needs and demands of students and staff can be time consuming and require an expert eye.  Our experienced school interior designers can create a concept to ensure your space is designed with creativity, thought and innovation to suit your unique needs.

If you have a school refurbishment or fit out project that requires expert help, then our experienced team at Rap are here to guide you through the process.  Please take a moment to complete the form below and one of our team would be happy to discuss your project further and help get the ball rolling!

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