I went to the library to look on books about kid’s furniture. And I found this book from the library, “Kids Design” by Dalian University of Technology Press. That talks about kid’s furniture and showing different category of furniture as I was lost of selecting which kind of furniture I want to make as the range are really wide.
Firstly I went to look at what kind of requirements are needed for designing a kids furniture….
Before the age of 11 to 14, children would come to the most important life stage during which they are experiencing the maturity of body and mind, the information of humanity quality and world values and the interactions of various problem. Within these few years, children usually make rapid progress like learning to run, to play, to speak, to observe, to please, and even to develop bad temper, while parents find it too fast to accept all the changes that happen to the little personalities and feel that they should have done better in their early education.
For parents, to meet the basic standard of raising kids is to provide the a healthy and safe growing environment. Thus, children’s product also on the safety issues concerning the shape, structure, material, weight and more importantly, how they are used. While most people care about the physical change, the designers are more considerate in offering children the best gift for the development of their inner world.
A cardinal principle of all the people who designing kids furniture is to concern the harmonious development of kid’s body and mind which means all information from outside world, through the children’s sense organ, would act on the development of their nerve and nerve system and thus leading to the maturity of the perception, cognition, consciousness and judgement; in return, the higher level faculties would accelerate the healthy formation of other physiological elements. Accordingly, we come to know that the development of a child doesn’t start from maturity of their body, and learning is also part of the development. But most parents fail to realize the striking capability of their kids’ learning and believe that they are too young to understand things. As a result, their judgement strangle the kids’ great wisdom and hamper their growing speed. An American child psychologist who once personally brought up ten children from different family circumstances for 17 years says that the key point of children raising is not how much you have taught them but how they are taught to avoid losing. In this sense, children are not students but teachers and they may turn every utensil into toy and every toy into a teaching tool. Therefore, all children’s products will, without exception, act on the sound development of children’s body and mind. In this sense, designers are specially expected to meet the great challenge and fulfill the parents requirement.
As the book says an excellent work is designed to cater to children’s age characteristic and not to satisfy the needs of children with large age span, eg: from 1 to 5 years old. Usually, the change of a new born baby is based on days, infant on months and kids on years or half a year, thus the product for younger children is characterized with short life circle, a feature must be considered in order to design practical pieces of work. So I think it will be good if I am able to come out with a product that can cater different age as I think is wasted if most of the kids furniture have such a short life span.
So based on the above mentioned factors, the children products are designed on the following principles as:
- Safety: The material and the content of harmful substances comfirm to the standard; the edges and corners are well treated; the dimension is for proper age.
- Right age: The size, material, color and function of the products are for right age.
- Entertainment scene: To create proper mental environment and mood of game, appealing to the senses of sight, hearing and touch, in line with the cognitive ability.
So after reading the book, I come out with this mindmap about the directions that I can go to.
Products for Sleeping
Bed is the first household furniture for children since newborns sleep for up to 16 hours a day during the first few months and those of 2 or 3 years old will sleep 12 hours a day. That is to say, babies spent almost half a day sleeping which is helpful in developing a healthy mind.
Babies grow fast and their beds are expected to grow with them. But it is a challenge for designers to fulfill the expectation since there are some basic standards to have to be followed in producing bed. Therefore, it is hard to create a single bed that can enable use from new born up to 8 years old concerning the facts that children will experience dramatic physical change during these years.
And so, these are the requirements for designing a kids bed:
- If ropes are used as guard rails, special attention should be paid to the gap between knots to protect the babies from stifling.
- Avoid paint cracking and toxic substances (like lead, benzene, or formaldehyde) in coating the beds since babies are apt to bite when teething.
- The swing frequency and angle of cradles or cribs are expected to correspond to those of pregnant mothers. The vibration of cribs should be managed to avoid the potential danger aroused by excessive shake: at best, it will result in the slow brain growth; at worst, an intracranial hemorrhage.
- Check the stability of little beds regularly; keep the beds clean and the surface smooth; consider the playing mode and age when designing the upper and lower beds.
- Offer babies the best sleeping environment since newborns spent most of their time sleeping, a protective inhibition adapting to the outside stimulus.
Products for Eating
Children of different ages may acquire new understanding towards the same tableware like nursing bottle, cup, plates, bowl, hands, spoon, chopsticks, dining table and stool, so in most cases, these dinnerware could be applied as teaching tools to train children. For example, an infant is usually complete ignorant of the shape or function of a spoon when he or she even cannot eat with hands, so they can only imitate adults while failing to differentiate between spoon and chopsticks. But little by little, children learn to understand and use spoon through repeated trying and training. As clothes, food, shelter and travel are basic elements for life, it is important for children to be actively engaged in family life as early as possible so as to learn to shoulder social responsibilities.
Products for Gaming
Toys are the media of children’s games. Children can turn nearly anything into a toy if they want. They can make a car by putting a bench upside-down; they can link several benches together to make a train; they can turn a pillow into a doll and turn a table into a house… Children’s creativity is always beyond imagination and they can easily connect two seemingly different things together, which shows their ability to view the world as a whole. Recognizing the connection between things is what we count for truly recognizing the world or what we call “acknowledge”. Rather than concerning the individual point, they are more curious about the underlying mechanism of a question and ask “Why it’s going this way?”. Such questions stand for the reasons or mechanics behind the phenomenon ans the links of different elements. Every question like this related to their personal experiences will stir the next questions, which is the essence of children’s life, life with curiosity, in another word, passion and creativity. Questions from children may cover various fields whether they are useful or not. And it is such an endless curiosity that brings them into maturity in an easy ad progressive way.
If you are choosing toys for your children, you do not need to take their age into consideration and make your decision based on the function of toys. For example, all training of behavior, vision, audio, attention, cognition… is not only built from the separate knowledge point, but also from the natural process of growing and cultivation of good habits.
The design of intelligent toys focuses on generating curiosity rather than teaching knowledge in the primary school to children in advance. All in all, the game appliance must pay attention to children’s physical and mental health as well as developing their skills. It should teach them and make them understand the behavioral rules like when to be a leaser and when to be a follower, when to be concentrated and when to be at ease, what cooperation is and what communication means…
Products for Storing
The storage equipments for children are designed to cultivate the ability of dealing with their business and thus featured with being interesting, legible, simple, and safe. Besides this, other elements as the combination mode, stability, shape, color, height, material, position, category and function are also needed to taken into serious consideration. Generally speaking, younger children are pleased to use simple storage appliances like shoes rack, clothes rack, trash can and toy box, while the older ones are happy with wardrobe and bookshelf… to take care of their own articles for daily use. All children products are expected to be interesting, playful and attractive, supported by stories, personification, exaggeration, dreams, or cartoons
Products for Decorating
Environment factors in this category refer to visual factors. Living environment can easily affect the children’s mood and thus children of different ages ought to be exposed to various environment. For instance, bright and vibrant colors do not suit newborns in that they need quiet and mild atmosphere for sound sleep. But to the older ones who love to listen to stories, it is wise to change the environment in response to the story plots. At the same time, children had better participate in home decoration to know what they want and what they can create.
Products for Nursing
The products for child nursing are actually the extension of adult’s limb function. This category illustrates the designing of stroller while requires special attention to the way of baby’s sitting, safety, comfort, sleeping and playing. In addition, the strollers are expected to be easy to carry, to push, to store, and to offer parents a better view. Accordingly, the function, size, material, color, structure, way of folding and sitting, weight, speed of pushing and style of the strollers must be designed in accordance with the age of the baby concerned.
I feel that is it important for me to find out the requirements for designing kids furniture. So next step I’m gonna select the categories that I want to focus on from the mindmap. And at the same time read up more books about designing furniture for kids.