Playful Design for Your Kids



kid-friendly design icffThere's no reason why adults should have all the fun in well-designed furnishings and accessories. Designers who previously worked in technology, furniture and engineering are starting to apply their skills to children's toys and furnishings.

Upstart California firm Kaiku has a new, ecological and irresistible take on the little red wagon. Designer Scot Herbst showed his "Zen" wagon for the first time this past week, at this year's International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. Besides the obvious sidewalk appeal of its bent-birch plywood and ergonomic floorboard, there are accessories that make this well worth the $319 retail price. For instance, a magnetic locking system for the handle, a foam grip, and air-filled rubber tires. Side slits complete the airy look. It's currently sold in a few specialty shops or directly from Kaiku. (It arrives this summer in New York's Museum of Modern Art shop.) It's guaranteed to be the envy of every kid on the block.



What better way to encourage play and creativity than with Rana Ottaviani's "Tatolino" chair? Parents might see an Alexander Calder-like sculpture made from EVA foam; kids will see a fun, moveable bench, chair, table or play structure that has openings for embellishing as they see fit. Pricing starts at more than $700.



We also loved the nature-inspired bookshelf by Korean designer Shawn Soh. "Tree Bookcase" is made of powder-coated metal and is inspired by the designer's own experiences of sticking letters on trees. Soh says "a tree becomes a book becomes a tree," which no doubt alludes to her notion of the interrelatedness of things.



Kids love furniture they can pick up and move around. Brooklyn designer Lisa Albin's "Throwing Stones" fit that bill perfectly. The shapes are made of Dacron (a polyester fiber) and covered by wool. They're soft enough for sitting and stacking, and they also come in three fun colors, and in three sizes that kids will want to rearrange and move around. The stones run from $175-$365.


Albin also showed "Tea Pods," which raise the bar for functionality: The foam seating is covered with recycled ultra-suede slipcovers. The smaller piece can become a side table when covered with a tray of maple, bamboo or walnut veneer. The larger piece becomes a wrap-around lounger when placed on its side. We're waiting for the adult version. Pieces range from $190- $1,115.



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