Coronavirus pandemic

Cardboard table for needy kids' home learning

From left: Design director John Chan, design intern Scott Lee, content strategist Christian Sng, and experience and 3D designer Teo Kiah Sheng from strategic design consultancy Chemistry with the #HBLTable, which is made of sturdy double-wall cardboa
From left: Design director John Chan, design intern Scott Lee, content strategist Christian Sng, and experience and 3D designer Teo Kiah Sheng from strategic design consultancy Chemistry with the #HBLTable, which is made of sturdy double-wall cardboard and can be used by children aged four to 12. PHOTO: CHEMISTRY

A Singapore-based company has devised a study table made of cardboard that not only caters to children of different ages, but is also easy to assemble.

The table comes with a matching stool and a stand for a laptop, tablet or book - all in 10mm sturdy double-wall cardboard.

More importantly, Chemistry, a strategic design consultancy, hopes the table will provide underprivileged children with a better learning environment at home, where the lack of space and resources often means that studying is done on the bed or the floor.

"The cardboard table can be used at two heights, catering for children aged four to 12 by simply flipping it on its front," said Mr John Chan, design director of Chemistry.

The company has been working with three welfare organisations to distribute the table sets for free to families with two or more children aged four to 12, whose monthly per capita household income is less than $650 and where home is a three-room Housing Board flat or smaller.

So far, the company has given 46 sets to beneficiaries of the Society of Sheng Hong Welfare Services, Fei Yue Family Service Centre and Tasek Jurong, a not-for-profit organisation that helps the socially disadvantaged.

Chemistry plans to fund and distribute 100 sets, each of which costs $50 to produce. Manufactured by home-grown firm Tri-Wall, the tables and stools can each bear up to 100kg in weight.

A beneficiary from Fei Yue Family Service Centre, who declined to be named, said the table came at the right time. She had been putting off buying a table for her two children as she could not afford it.

"Before this, my children had to use a television console to do their homework... I am so thankful for this," she said, adding that her children are looking forward to decorating the set with paint.

 
 
 

Dubbed the #HBLTable, the innovation is a collaboration between Chemistry's teams in Singapore and the Netherlands: managing director Bassam Jabry and design intern Eline van den Wildenberg from the firm's Amsterdam office, as well as Mr Chan, experience and 3D designer Teo Kiah Sheng, content strategist Christian Sng and design intern Scott Lee from the Singapore office.

#HBLTable was meant to make home-based learning more comfortable for children from low-income families during the circuit breaker. Students are now alternating between lessons in school and online learning at home; from June 29, they will return to school daily.

But the table set will continue to be useful for the children, said Mr Chan. "Although students will soon return to school daily, the situation at home for underprivileged families remains the same."

For more information about the #HBLTable, welfare organisations may contact Mr John Chan at john@chemistryteam.com or Mr Teo Kiah Sheng at kiahsheng@chemistryteam.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2020, with the headline 'Cardboard table for needy kids' home learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe