Chairs, Chairs, Everywhere…

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, October 4, 2006

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Furniture Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One or two fifty-minute class periods


Design allows us to both respond and invent. This activity is designed to help students become aware of the multitude of design variations in everyday objects. Students will conduct surveys, collect information, and create a catalog of chairs. They will learn about the diverse ways we use design in daily living.

National Standards

Standard 1. Level IV. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process 5. Uses strategies to address writing to different audiences (e.g., includes explanations and definitions according to the audience's background, age, or knowledge of the topic, adjusts formality of style, considers interests of potential readers)
Standard 4. Level IV. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 2. Uses a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for research topics (e.g., news sources such as magazines, radio, television, newspapers; government publications; microfiche; telephone information services; databases; field studies; speeches; technical documents; periodicals; Internet) Standard  7. Level IV. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts 1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters, diaries, directions, procedures, magazines, essays, primary source historical documents, editorials, news stories, periodicals, catalogs, job-related materials, schedules, speeches, memoranda, public documents, maps)
Listening & Speaking
Standard  8. Level IV. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 3. Uses a variety of strategies to enhance listening comprehension (e.g., focuses attention on message, monitors message for clarity and understanding, asks relevant questions, provides verbal and nonverbal feedback, notes cues such as change of pace or particular words that indicate a new point is about to be made; uses abbreviation system to record information quickly; selects and organizes essential information) 4. Adjusts message wording and delivery to particular audiences and for particular purposes (e.g., to defend a position, to entertain, to inform, to persuade) 5. Makes formal presentations to the class (e.g., includes definitions for clarity; supports main ideas using anecdotes, examples, statistics, analogies, and other evidence; uses visual aids or technology, such as transparencies, slides, electronic media; cites information sources) 8. Responds to questions and feedback about own presentations (e.g., clarifies and defends ideas, expands on a topic, uses logical arguments, modifies organization, evaluates effectiveness, sets goals for future presentations) 
Working With Others
Standard 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group 
Thinking & Reasoning
Standard 5. Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques
Visual Arts: Artistic Expression & Communication
Standard  2. Level IV. Knows how to use structures (e.g., sensory qualities, organizational principles, expressive features) and functions of art 1. Understands how the characteristics and structures of art are used to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other artistic intentions

Common Core State Standards:

Anchor Standards for Writing

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.


Students will do the following:
  • respond to writing prompts
  • draw artistic renderings
  • conduct Internet research
  • compare, contrast, and evaluate diverse sources of information
  • respond to aesthetic elements of chair design
  • write captions and create a catalog presentation


  • computer with Internet Access
  • "The Chair: A Catalog of Design" handout


  • drawing or construction paper
  • markers, crayons, pencils
  • stapler
  • scissors
  • glue


Building Background My Favorite Chair

The purpose of this activity is to help students activate their background knowledge on the activity topic. 1. Ask each student to respond to the following prompts:
  • Write a brief description of your favorite chair.
  • Draw a picture of your favorite chair.
  Ask for volunteers to share their responses with their classmates. Post students' drawings so they are visible to the entire class. Lead a group discussion based on the following questions:
  • How are the chairs different from each other?
  • How are the chairs similar to each other?
  • What are some of the words you would use to describe the chairs?

Steps for Learning Cataloging the Chair

The purpose of this activity is to help students become aware of the diversity of design in everyday life. 1. Divide the class into small groups and tell them that they are going to create a catalog that contains different kinds of chairs. Give each group a copy of the "The Chair: A Catalog of Design" handout, and provide the students with construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, markers, and crayons to use in constructing the catalogs. 2. After each group has constructed its catalog, have the students present their work to their classmates. 3. Host a mock design award show using the students' catalog selections. First, as a class, decide what categories you will use for the awards. The following is a list of suggestions:
  • Best Design
  • Worst Design
  • Best Use of Color
  • Most Original Design
  • Worst Pattern
  • Strangest Design
  • Most Uncomfortable
  Teacher Note: These are simply suggestions. Encourage your students to be creative as they think of design award categories. 4. Discuss the results of the award show with your students. Ask them to share what they learned about chairs and design.


Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric.-How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-Rate how effectively you analyzed the varied information sources you used. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how effectively you included a diverse range of chair styles in your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how well you described each item in your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate your creativity. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate the overall quality of your catalog. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

Furniture Design
Encourage your students to continue exploring furniture design. Ask your students to create a catalog of tables, sofas, or desks.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.