1. Home
  2. Design Ideas

Back to School: 14 Things for Design-Conscious School Kids 

Back to school, back to reality. It’s September. It’s that time of year when kids up and down the land don fresh, clean uniforms and shiny, polished shoes. Backpacks and satchels are bursting with books and stationery, their weight adding to that dragging of feet.

Of course smart kids are those with a keen eye for design, secure in the knowledge that quality encourages commitment and improves overall performance and satisfaction. Why not teach kids that less is more and better, and that good design improves focus and quality of life.


Notebooks sort and store our ideas, thoughts, memories and feelings. Physical and tangible, a real notebook will always upstage any gimmicky smartphone app. A good notebook will be hardwearing and stylish—a thing of beauty that looks sharp on any table or desk.

Notebooks by Nuuna

Nuuna notebooks are made of Swedish premium paper, thread-stitched and bound in smooth bonded leather or jeans label material. Covetable and collectable, they are cool design items in their own right.

Notebooks by Nuuna. Photos © Nuuna by Brandbook.

Above image, clockwise from top left: Minimal in style, the YES and NO notebook might help answer questions and act as a voting card. YES marks the front and NO marks the back | A rather purist notebook, WRITE or WRONG—you decide | Kandinsky, the Russian painter and theorist, suggested ‘everything starts from a dot.’ Putting pen or pencil to paper, EVERYTHING STARTS FROM A DOT and drives away the fear of a blank page | THE HAPPY BOOK was created by New York-based graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister for Nuuna. Bright yellow, this vivid notebook is bound to make you smile.

Notebooks by DESIGN LETTERS & Friends

Mette Thomsen, a one-time copywriter and journalist, founded Danish brand DESIGN LETTERS & Friends in 2009. Recognising a gap in the market, where lettering for kids was typically kitsch and multicoloured, Mette launched a series of monochrome letters. Today, the brand includes Arne Jacobsen’s ‘AJ Vintage ABC’ typography from 1937.

The ‘Brainstorm’ notebook, featuring ‘AJ Vintage ABC’ type, is perfect for noting those moments of inspiration and madcap ideas. Photo © Designletters.
The ‘Sketch Book’ is ideal for all budding illustrators. Photo © Designletters.


Of course notebooks are of little use unless one has a pen or pencil at hand.

Pencils by Hay

Pencils at the ready. Danish brand Hay has an eclectic and colourful collection of writing instruments.

Swirl pencils are made of cedar wood and graphite.
The Terrazzo pencil features a terrazzo-inspired pattern.

Photos courtesy of Hay.

Perkeo fountain pens from Kaweco

Kaweco is a Heidelberg-based manufacturer of writing instruments. Its Perkeo dip pen was first introduced around 1900. This is a classic pen with modern-day appeal. Colours include the wonderfully named Bad Taste, Indian Summer, Cotton Candy and Old Chambray.

Perkeo fountain pens.
Perkeo Cotton Candy fountain pen.

Photos © Kaweco.


Cool kids crave style. These accessories are modish must-haves.

Newspaper rucksack by Thisispaper

This clean and minimal waxed grey newspaper rucksack was designed by Warsaw-based multidisciplinary design studio Thisispaper. A roomy backpack, it will hold books, a laptop, chargers and stationery. And it looks good to boot.

Waxed grey newspaper rucksack. Photos © Thisispaper Studio.

Lunch box by DESIGN LETTERS & Friends

The personal lunch box and snack box features ‘AJ Vintage ABC’ type by Arne Jacobsen. It’s a clever way to store a healthy lunch (and cake treat).

Personal lunch box and snack box. Photo © Designletters.

Bed linen by DESIGN LETTERS & Friends

For kids who enjoy letters and type, this ABC bed linen will have them dreaming words of wisdom.

ABC bed linen
Bed linen. Photo © Designletters.

Lamella noticeboard by OYOY

Danish brand OYOY creates a range of winsome products that emphasise design, functionality, quality and fun. The quirky Lamella noticeboard is made using cork and a single brass-plated metal stick.

Lamella noticeboard. Photo © OYOY Living Design.

Cork noticeboard by OYOY

The traditional cork noticeboard by OYOY is a perfect desk or shelf pinboard.

Cork noticeboard. Photo © OYOY Living Design.

Starfish by Hay

Danish brand Hay’s aluminium Starfish is made up of multiple ‘fins’—ideal for storing cards, notes and pictures.

Starfish. Photo courtesy of Hay.

Braun ET66 Calculator

While more and more kids brandish smartphones with glee, in technology circles, certain old-school devices remain hip. Braun reissued the ET66 calculator, an iconic instrument designed by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs in 1987. The ET66 by far outweighs any smartphone calculator.

ET66 Calculator in black.
ET66 Calculator in white.

Photos © WallpaperSTORE*.


A desk, a chair and a lamp—three essential items for completing homework. And as kids grow older, the perfect home office pieces when they find their own space.

CPH desk by the Bouroullec brothers

French brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec designed the CPH Copenhague desk for Hay. With its schooldays’ charm and feel, the desk is simple, sleek and uncluttered. The linoleum top is available in a range of colours.

CPH desk. Photo courtesy of Hay.
CPH desk. Photo via Design Republic.

Toro chair by Michael Geldmacher

Munich-based Michael Geldmacher designed the distinctive ‘Toro’ chair for Italian manufacturer B-Line. The chair’s backrest resembles a bull’s horns, ensuring the seat’s profile is graphic and distinctive.

Toro chair. Photo via Architonic.

Caravaggio Read Table™

The charming Caravaggio Read Table™ lamp was designed by Danish industrial designer Cecilie Manz for Lightyears (a part of Republic of Fritz Hansen). With a classic shade on a flexible tube, it is the ideal homework light—perfect for studying and reading.

Caravaggio Read Table™ lamp. Photo © Republic of Fritz Hansen.
Gerard McGuickin
Gerard is a writer, a thinker and a modern-day gentleman living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. Walnut Grey Design is his popular manifesto of good design. From Gerard’s discerning perspective, design should be aesthetic, smart, honest and gratifying. Moreover, it must be for keeps. A self-confessed urbanite, Gerard is enthralled b[...]

You might also like