University of Illinois - Classroom

Purple classroom at UIC with refurbished radiator cover, chalkboard converted into art piece and new custom-built and designed teacher's desk with vintage kitchen chair

CHALLENGE

Transform a typical drab, cold classroom into an inspired space for learning on a limited budget while reusing the existing desks and not removing any of the blackboards.

STARTING POINT

  • Grey cinder block walls

  • Beige vinyl tiles

  • Narrow windows

  • Harsh florescent lighting

  • Old metal teacher's desk

  • Old radiator with metal covers

  • Two blackboards (one of which was along the back of the classroom and no longer in use but was deemed too expensive to remove)

  • Student desks which could not be replaced

WHAT WE DID

Using the international makeup of the student body as our inspiration, we created a design that would be welcoming and honor the various cultures of the individuals within its walls. We used Chinese paper cut art as the core of the design of the teacher's desk, translating it into a painted pattern onto the surface. Various ethnic patterns were incorporated into the painted transformation of the metal radiator covers into an exotic trunk. Other patterns were painted as a border around the front chalkboard and handpainted by an artist. 

The walls were painted into cheery colors and the beige vinyl flooring was replaced with a deep purple hued commercial grade tile. The windows were also painted and embellished. A glass artist created custom glass tiles which were inserted onto the tops of each window pane to reflect color into the room.

Since we couldn't remove the back blackboard we decided to turn it into an art piece with whimsical folk art birds suspended over its re-painted surface. An art nouveau tree was painted onto the inside of the classroom door. The outside of the door was painted a warm color with a branch of a tree waving welcome and encouraging students to see what revelations awaited inside.

Before

Before photo of UIC Classroom
Before photo of UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Yellow painted cinder block walls in a classroom, a deep orange door with an Art Deco tree painted in yellow upon it, reclaimed wood desk with Chinese papercut pattern painted on the surface, blackboard with stenciling around the edges, vintage kitchen chair upholstered in purple and orange, purple vinyl tile floor

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Mellow yellow painted wall with stencil painted around a chalkboard, artisan teacher's desk, old student desks, purple vinyl tile floor

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Light yellow cinder block wall and blackboard with red vine stencil

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Reclaimed wood table with red Chinese flower pattern

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Old radiator painted purple and red with three red medallions and a yellow border with ethnic designs in the center, purple vinyl tile floor, light purple concrete framing long narrow windows

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Top of long, narrow windows framed in lavender concrete with glass tiles inserted in the top panes

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Old chalkboard re-purposed into an artpiece by painting it yellow, painting vines and suspending folk art birds painted onto small wood squares

UIC Innovation Center
UIC Innovation Center

Close-up of folk art bird painted in a red outline onto a small square of wood

UIC Classroom
UIC Classroom

Square of wood with folk art peacock painted in red and suspended from a wire in front of an old blackboard painted yellow with lightly painted flower stalks