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Creating independence with a custom Bodyfurn® chair

Celebrating design inclusivity in the classroom: How a custom Bodyfurn® chair changed a student’s school life

Jack loves school. His inquisitive nature and sense of humor brings joy to those at rural Omakere School. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Jack’s learning journey has been different to most. His inability to walk had made maneuvering a classroom difficult, and highlighted the need for a supportive chair that was tailor-made for his requirements. Being an active learner, dynamic movement was also an important consideration for Jack to remain comfortable and engaged.

Jack’s parents, Jane and Rob, recognising his need for more supportive classroom furniture, searched high and low for suitable solutions but found it difficult to source options appropriate for Jack. It was also important to Jack that his chair wasn’t too dissimilar to his classmates’. 

At Furnware, we’re all about designing and creating furniture so children can thrive in the most inspiring learning spaces imaginable. So, when Hamish Whyte, Owner of Furnware, met Jane and Rob back in 2020 through mutual friends, he was determined to help provide Jack with a comfortable solution that met his personal needs.

Jack showing Hamish and Marianne his favourite game.

A week later, local Account Manager, Marianne, visited the school to assess Jack’s needs. “It was important to observe Jack to gauge his size. If the seat pad is too big for the student, it’s a tipping hazard,” said Marianne. She also noted the other children sat on Furnware’s Bodyfurn® chairs and that Jack wanted one too.

Furnware’s best-selling school chair, The Bodyfurn®, is a unique chair that was developed after many years of research, design, and testing. With proven results, the design forefronts comfort and therefore concentration, with its independently pivoting seat and back that offers the right support without restricting circulation.

So, the process of customising Jack’s chair began. To ensure Jack was safe and supported in his chair, custom arm rests were added to a Bodyfurn® chair. The arm rests were made to be adjustable so Jack could sit close to his desk. We also added a gas lift option to Jack’s chair, which enabled him to seamlessly adjust the seat height in relation to the height of different desks and tables. This meant that, wherever Jack worked, he could modify his chair to suit the environment. Lastly, we replaced the original castors with glides, to ensure the chair was stable and would not give way.
Upon delivering the customised chair, Marianne was met with a big smile and a warm hug from Jack. It was safe to say he was thrilled with his new, personalised chair. 

A few months later, Jack took his first ever steps unaided. Rob attributed the custom Bodyfurn® chair to Jack’s progress, deeming the arm rests instrumental in allowing Jack to push himself up to stand and build his muscles. 

“It has made such a huge difference to his learning and happiness at school”.

Rob, Jack's father

Fast forward to 2023, Jack had outgrown his beloved chair. The school contacted Furnware in February to see what could be done. Happy to help, and pleased to hear it was still in use, Marianne collected the chair, which involved a temporary goodbye for Jack.

The custom Bodyfurn® returned to the Furnware factory and the small gas strut was swapped for a medium sized strut. Marianne dropped the chair back to Omakere School, where Jack was delighted to be reunited with his chair. 

Jack's custom Bodyfurn® chair.

Recently, Marianne and Hamish visited Omakere School to see how Jack’s new chair was performing.

They were delighted to see it in action, providing both the support and comfort that Jack needed, while still resembling his classmates’ chairs. 

“Thank you, thank you”, said Jack’s in-class carer, Kirsty, “You have no idea what it’s done for him”.

Design inclusivity gets a thumbs up from Marianne, Jack, and Hamish.

Furnware is passionate about inclusivity within learning spaces and recognises that there is a diversity of learners in each classroom.

Jane expressed her appreciation saying, “it’s changed his life and his ability to learn”.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

Hamish, Owner of Furnware

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