Design Your Own Studio Space

Posted by Azul Terronez on Aug 28, 2012 in Design Thinking |

We started the first day of class with no desks! Why you might wonder? I wanted to see what would happen to my instruction and the students’ learning if we didn’t let the classroom design, desk, chairs, whiteboard etc. dictate the way I teach class. What would come of the studio space that use to be my classroom if students became the designers of their own space?

Though it’s not clear what will become of our now empty classroom, it’s been great to see that I don’t have to sit and lecture to make work meaningful to kids. We will be using the design thinking model that I learned at the D-school at Stanford to frame out thinking about our space. We will begin our empathy work around the problem this week. After we do a few design challenges to get our mind thinking, exciting work.


The first thing we did we was to conduct empathy interviews for users that were not in our class. The students protested and asked why should they interview students who would not be using the classroom space. I told them that they needed a specific user in mind, we weren’t looking to please everyone. Design for everyone is design for no one. So students interviewed students in other classes, grades and even other schools. The question they asked was, where do they do work? The majority of students did not do their studying or work at a desk, unless it was at school. The students found out what their interviewees needed to feel comfortable and then returned with their ideas.


Students returned to the classroom and did some ideation or creating dozens of ideas based on the needs of their users; crazy wild ideas that solved needs of the student they interviewed. They use the “how might we” statements that I learned from dSchool bootcamp. They took these hundreds of ideas to then begin to develop physical mock ups of their solutions.







The students then selected the most viable solution from their ideation activity to create a prototype for how they would solve the users need for a comfortable study space solution. The students only had about 30 minutes to create their prototype and then presented their solution to the class.


Students then took their prototype to the user to get feedback and make adjustments to their design. Students reported back the feedback to the class. Many students reported that though some of their designs were cool, they seemed a bit distracting or not as important as just mere comfort. Once the class presented their findings we selected the most feasible design to solve the new studio space challenge.


The solution that the students settled on was a Project Bar, much like a Starbucks counter, with a Project Barista that manages computers. The project bar was designed and built by student with the help of a parent volunteer. We often worked after school and on weekends to finish the space.


Jan 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I’m very interested in Design Thinking. How has it transformed your middle school classroom?

Azul Terronez
Jan 31, 2013 at 10:07 am

Students redesigned and built their own “project bar” in the classroom instead of desks so that student have ownership of their workspace. shoot me a message if you want more details!!

Mar 20, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I would love to have more information on this project. I think I want to do this with my students. I was in the process of designing my classroom next year when I ran across your blog. I think your placing it in the students hands is exactly what I should do!



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