Why do you design products for children?
As a designer I think you habitually channel your interest and influences through your design process and ideas. I have always appreciated spending time with children, maybe because I enjoy being present and spontaneous or maybe because I don’t want to grow up. But also because I admire young peoples opinions and perspective of there own little world. I spend time with children, and I apply my insight and reflections to form and function. It has just become my natural way of working as a designer. Besides that, I truly believe we learn, get excited and stimulated through doing rather then thinking. Children’s play is one way of doing, which is fairly close to the design process, at least mine. Also, my urge as a creative person and human being undoubtedly includes something close to good will. I want to make an impact, I want to ask questions, I want to lift the value of play, and I want to take care of important issues in today’s society. Perhaps I deal with that through designing for young people, as I trust them.
Good design for kids – what does that mean for you?
Good design is a tricky question as there are many layers to account and respond to, further the context gives you rules. Honesty, democracy, trust and inclusivity are essential aspects for me. As a designer you always create for someone else. Being an adult and designing for children you must take extra care of the user, as you can’t completely put yourself in their shoes (even though we all own our own childhood). This means good amount of time for reflection and letting children test and evaluate your ideas is essential. If you account that, design for children will have bigger chance to survive. Good design for children needs to give affordance to their own voice and decisions of usage. It needs to have a long-lasting fun factor and easy to understand. It needs to be less of design and more of openness. And it’s a win if design for children’s also lures the adults into action.
How do children respond to your play furniture “Flip”?
I would say they respond with what they are best at doing. Looking, touching, trying, playing. Some children get excited and curious quickly. Some children don’t, like adults, like all of us, respond in various ways. And as we are often taught to follow instructions, rules, and result – sometimes it’s tricky. And that’s why I think design solutions for open-ended play is great, some people need to practice play for the fact of playing and not to always reach a conclusion or answer. Not everyone can handle free play and its not always fun an easy. Sometimes we need to test, try and keep going, without knowing.
Tell us more about your Flip. Where is it manufactured? What material is it made of?
The product Flip is manufactured in Sweden. The material is sustainable and made of recycled plastic bottles. It is often used as insulation or filter component for the Swedish mime industry. It’s sturdy but extremely light compare to similar materials, which makes it possible for very young children to use. The whole product can be produced in the same factory; cutting, printing, connections etc. The attachment/ clips are today a 3D printed prototype in elastic plastic but the idea is to be vacuumed formed soon.
If you look into a crystal ball and predict your future as a designer: What children’s products would you like to design next?
It makes me think of Lady Allen of Hurtwood, the avid advocate for children’s right and welfare. She once said ‘Better a broken arm than a bruise spirit’. It might be a romanticized idea that’s slightly hindered of the world we live in today, but the ideology keeps me going. As a Child Culture Designer and companion for children’s right to require their space for play I would like to design a society that continue to lift the value of free play. Perhaps it should be design for adults that help us remain play rather than an object for children titled toy. But I guess that goal might be more of a mindset rather than a tangible object. I want to excite people play – physical, interactive, and collaborative. I want to design something that makes Monday morning a bit more fun; hence my company is called Form For Fun.
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