Kids Rule At International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York

Nesting on 05.23.11
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ICFF is huge- the second biggest furniture fair in the world, after Milan. It's where designers and manufacturers come to introduce the latest thing, the hottest new design. I usually go there to look for green design for TreeHugger, but this year kept an eye on the kids stuff for Parentables. 

One of the most interesting finds wias the Scandinavian So-Ro cradle. It's not designed by the usual designer suspects, but by an occupational therapist who looked at the way babies are rocked naturally. Ane Lillian Tveit writes on her not-ready-for-prime-time english website:

According to research of the brain's interpretation of sensory input, forward movement is the most comfortable and soothing motion for the baby. The brain registers linear, forward motion as soothing.  Most cradles in the market utilize lateral motion, which stimulates the circular-motion portion of the brain and can lead to dizziness and discomfort. The so-ro cradle's soothing effect helps babies fall asleep easier, which in turn leads to calmer and better-rested parents who increase their energy level for everyday living.

 

It is strong, too; Ane says that an adult can stand in it without it tipping over. Not much more at So-Ro.

 

tools for schools photo

Image credit: Tools for Schools 

For many, the hit of the show was the Tools For Schools project. It also had an unusual group of designers: 44 eighth-grade students at The School at Columbia University. Dave Pinter of PSFK writes:

 The design solutions represent that perfect balance of function and beauty. Sadly, school furniture’s reputation is some of the most uninspiring and impersonal stuff produced. The eighth graders did a remarkable job of channeling their experiences towards improving the furniture.

There is so much to like in this furniture, from the way it holds backpacks to the letter slots on the lockers. But the best feature of all is the fact that it was essentially designed by kids for kids. No wonder they like it so much, and present it so well a the show. More at Tools for Schools.

Nuseryworks crib

Image Credit Nurseryworks.

Babies don't stay babies for very long, but good furniture can last a lifetime. That's why I like what we call Transformer Furniture, that can change and evolve over time. This lovely crib from Nurseryworks has a changing table built into its end; as the child grows, it turns into a daybed and the changing table turns into a desk. They write that "it's really four pieces of furniture in one!" However, I suspect that if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. More at Nurseryworks.

Rocking chair

Image credit: Lloyd Alter

Finally, I thought this little rocking horse that turns into a table was cute. It was part of a big German design display, designed by Thomas Wehage for Kaether and Weise.

Designing for kids is tough; you want the stuff to be made of healthy materials and built to last, but you also want it to be affordable, since they outgrow it so fast. It is a tough call. Perhaps what someone really needs to design is a product service system, where you can lease the really good stuff for a number of years and then return it. They do it in Austria with car seats; why not do it with cribs?

Tags: Kid Style