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Earthquake Desk, 2016​

Ido Bruno and Arthur Brutter

Every day, millions of children in low and middle-income countries risk death and injury in seismically unsafe schools. Schools made of adobe, heavy masonry, or concrete frames with unreinforced masonry walls are common in these countries, and can be lethal during earthquakes. Students at these schools are taught, in the case of an earthquake, to “Drop, cover and hold” beneath desks, but most desks would be crushed under heavy debris. The alternative – running out of the collapsing building – is, in most cases, neither feasible nor safe in crowded schools with few exits. 


The Earthquake Desk was designed to provide a solution by offering both protective coverage and passageways for rescue-team accessibility. It can withstand vertical loads of up to one ton dropped from a height of 3.5 meters, thus providing resistance to significantly stronger impact than a common school desk. In addition, it is adapted to classroom cleaning and other routine, non-emergency needs.


The Earthquake Desk is now evolving along three separate tracks: 1. A commercial product manufactured and distributed worldwide by A.D. Meraz, which is currently in the process of business development in a number of countries.  2. An ongoing academic research project concerning methods and means of creating faster and better distribution of earthquake protection through design-led collaborations between the private, governmental, non-profit, and academic sectors. The research is conducted through the RDFD (Relevant Design for Disaster) research group at the Bezalel academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. 3. A non-profit project carried out in Bhutan to develop the capacities of Bhutanese furniture manufacturers to produce Earthquake Desks for local schools.

Prof. Ido Bruno, born 1963, lives and works in Jerusalem. He is Professor of industrial design at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem; a member of the research group Relevant Design for Disaster (RDFD), and head of IDBruno Industrial Design.


Arthur Brutter, born 1982, is a graduate of the industrial design department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. He studied in the Keter Group's d-Vision program, where he currently directs a center for 3-D design. He also works as an independent designer in the field of electronic packaging and the UAV industry.

Design and development: Ido Bruno, Arthur Brutter

Financing: Air Worldwide, Verisk Analytics Co., USA

Patent owner: A.D. Meraz Industries Ltd., Israel

Project management and coordination: GeoHazards International (GHI); representatives in Bhutan: Karma Doma Tshering, Sonam Tenzin; In collaboration with: School Planning and Building Department (SPBD), Bhutan Ministry of Education; Chief Engineers: Karma Sonam, Diwakar Lama, Lalit Kr. Gurung Manufacturers: Staples & Jattu Wood Industry, Karma Steel & Wood Industry, Namgay Wood Industries, H&K, and Chima Wood Industries, all in Phuentsholing, Bhutan; Selected exhibitions and awards: Second Prize in the "Social Impact" category, CORE77 Prize (2012); "Design of the Year," Design Museum, London (2012); "Applied Design," The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013); Red Dot Design Award (2014); "Disaster Risk Reduction Solutions," Sendai Municipal Museum, Japan (2015); "Safe and Sound," Museum of Design, Lausanne (2016).

Photo: Solly Baba, Ido Bruno

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