The Ordinary Stool with an Extraordinary Message

More than just a stool, the SEAT doubles as an educational tool for kids.

Sep 16, 2015
Child painting a stool by The SEAT Project

One of the SEAT's many functions is acting as a tool for promoting creativity and self-expression (Facebook)

At first glance, the SEAT looks like any other stool. It’s simple, compact, and the perfect size for a child. Though the SEAT is just that – a stool for sitting – it is also many, many other things.

The S.E.A.T Project is a social initiative that presents children with a tangible example of sustainability, teaches them about doing good in the world, and helps them to discover their own gifts and talents. The project was initiated by Niki Banados when she was a graduate student at UNSW Art & Design Sydney. She developed the S.E.A.T. Project as part of the Hands That Shape Humanity challenge to create something ordinary - but with an extraordinary message.

The SEAT itself is the definition of sustainable. As part of its cradle-to-cradle design, it’s made entirely of sustainably grown and harvested bamboo in a zero-waste factory that is powered solely by bamboo offcuts. The stool doesn’t require nails or glue and is 100 percent biodegradable, including its packaging.

When it comes to teaching kids about doing good and social responsibility, look no further than where the stool is made.  As part of the project’s guiding principle - “design that makes a difference” - the SEAT is built and assembled by a community in Vietnam, which is supported and funded by the business the project brings to the village. The factory provides much needed jobs for the villagers, especially women, which make up 90 percent of the workforce.

Banados wanted to define the “doing good” component the S.E.A.T project in a way that children could understand. The result was The Little Stool That Could, a values-based  children’s book by Lesley Hancock that is included with every SEAT purchase. The book illustrates how such an ordinary stool could be so extraordinary by bringing S.E.A.T and his friend Bea, the paper mache butterfly, to life.

The versatility of the SEAT doesn’t stop there. In schools, the stool has been used as a tool to encourage teamwork and problem solving, promote literacy, teach about sustainability and community, and exercise creativity. Perhaps most importantly, the S.E.A.T. project applies a practical lens when teaching kids about global issues - instilling a sense of optimism by enabling students to see firsthand that effective solutions are achievable to make the world a better place.    

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