Here at ImageCo, we absolutely love to create amazing visual spaces that inspire creativity within all sorts of different environments, but one sector that we know we can make a particular impact on, is in the education sector.
That’s why Engaging Education got in touch with us back in May to help him develop a creative learning space for three different areas within a specialist school. The school caters for vulnerable young people with special educational needs and required an environment that nurtures and develops the skills and talents of their students by celebrating their individuality. This requires exceptional design skills and a team with the ability to think outside the box when it comes to graphic design.
The team at Engaging Education had lots of great ideas, and provided us with a very clear brief for us to work from, which is always helpful in giving us solid foundations to produce the initial design. As well as a great brief, we always want to make sure that our design proposals are well researched and well informed, so we set up a focus group to discuss and share ideas for the three main interior spaces- ‘The Calming Room’, ‘The Educational Zone’ and ‘The Sensory Corridor’.
As the name suggests, ‘The Calming Room’ may suggest, this space was to be a quiet, relaxing area where children experiencing all levels of need could use. The space was to be soothing, refreshing and not over stimulating- taking into account autism friendly colour schemes. The space was also designed to be multi-functional, incorporating a calm reading area to alleviate stress, a purpose built dark den for a soothing effect on the body and mind but also it was an area to be used for quiet dining as and when required. With that said, our work isn’t just intended to wow, it must match the brief and be useful to the intended purpose. That’s why we also carried out extensive research to ensure that our designs did just that, as you can see from the photos, the designs were well in brief. The space has been transformed from an unimaginative and uninviting space into an area where staff, parents/carers and most importantly, the children can utilise appropriately for their individual needs on a daily basis.
‘The Educational Zone’ was a lot more fun and playful. Again, multi-functional, the aim of this spaxe was to appeal to children and be bright, colourful, eye catching and engaging. Amy Pearman, Engaging Education’s Graphic Designer, created art work incorporating a sea scape, rainforest and comic strip theme for this space which was a great idea. We initially thought it might be a little ‘busy’, but what has been created is an interactive space using a variety of methods. Not only are the walls created with children’s needs in mind, we created editable speech bubbles to reflect the restorative practice in place at the school. The space will be split frequently, depending on the educational requirements on the day so it was important to create an interchangeable area.
Our favourite area was definately ‘The Sensory Corridor’. Lots of ideas (some completely ‘out there!’) were discussed and there was a limited brief for this area, so as long as it incorporated lots of visuals, textures and sensory elements; it was basically a blank canvas! A total dream for graphic designers and ImageCo! Both teams discussed this area at length, but essentially it was paramount that the children’s ideas and designs were used too as they had some fantastic thoughts about this space. One boy in particular was very keen on fast cars, hence the ‘Car Wall’, which features printed tyre Dibond and a large Foamex printed car with mirrored acrylic wheels. We hope he is impressed! On the other side, we wanted to create a tactile area by using real moss, bark and stone panels on one of the walls. Touch/feel was incredibly important during the initial designs and we completely raised the bar here. Unfortunately, some of our crazy ideas couldn’t be carried out to do budget limitations, so the grass carpet, LED light boxes, Optical illusions, sounds and smells might have to wait a while!
We also revamped one of the outdoor areas with a view to look at the additional spaces in the future. The school is luckily situated on a large campus, surrounded by nature, so we decided to ‘bring the outside in’ whilst keeping in mind the sensory element. We produced a large lavender wall which is also reflected in the entrance corridor. This has prompted the school to plant some lavender in this outdoor area and also produce some fantastic nature inspired art work to showcase the children’s talents, what a great idea!
We’re sure you will agree that the ‘after’ pictures show more useable, child friendly and inspiring areas, and we’re looking forward to hearing the children’s feedback in September! It has been an absolute pleasure working alongside Engaging Education and you’ll be seeing us do lots more of these projects in the future.