Why you design products for children?
Hanna I am really interested in the world of children and how they play and interact with everything around them. My goal is to in some way be a part of the creation of play objects or play spaces that hopefully works as a tool for – and triggers play.
Magdalena It allows me to play with both curiosity and imagination. To have an open mind and go to an imaginary world is very important in my life.
Marta I really like it! I think that designing for children helps me to be more open to the different shapes, materials and functions. To me it is also important to design together with kids, to understand their point of view and needs.
What was your inspiration for play furniture KUL?
Hanna My inspiration was everyday life and the spaces we live in and how we as adults can interact with kids.
Magdalena Not all children are privileged enough to have a whole playroom for themselves. They might be sharing their room with siblings or their parents. They might also be playing most of the time outdoors or in the living room or the kitchen. Taking those aspects into consideration, we designed KUL add-ons for the Billy bookcase to turn a part of any room into a playroom. We wanted to encourage families to use what is already in their homes and not have to buy several big separate play objects for different play situations. With that in mind, we started to design different shapes for our add-ons.
Marta I can’t agree more with Hanna and Magdalena. We wanted to show the importance on children’s play in everyday life. Therefore we hacked one of the most popular furniture at home to turn it into a playfurniture.
Why is KUL especially suited for children as a piece of a playfurniture?
Hanna The idea is to transform an ordinary piece of furniture, the bookshelf, to something that could double as a playfurniture and support interaction and play.
Magdalena These play add-ons can transform the area around the bookshelf into a play zone and can be expanded into the interior of the room. Kul allows children to take place in a space. The add-ons also have open shapes to trigger the imagination and different play situations.
Marta Our set of four add-ons can be easily detached from the bookshelf and put around the room, to encourage imaginary play, obstacle course, role play or storytelling.
How children respond to your play furniture?
Hanna They opened and closed the hatches and turned it into a store where you could buy different kinds of foods. We wanted “the door” to be inviting and trigger this kind of role-play as well as a playing theatre for example.
Magdalena Children always use material in unexpected ways and role-play is fun for them. The shapes trigger their imagination and together with friends they played different roles.
Marta We showed it to children around 2 years old. They had fun with role play and movement of opening and closing the add-ons.
Are there other products that you produce specifically for children?
Hanna I have recently designed a play garden hut for children produced by a play centre in Gothenburg (Alfie Atkins Culture House). I have also done other play furniture projects for children in the school where I am studying my last year (the Child Culture Design programme).
Marta During studies at Child Culture Design in Göteborg I had opportunity to create more prototypes for children’s use. I have designed a play furniture “ Explosion” based on conversations with children, about their favourite places to play and the characteristics that those places have.
A few personal questions at the end:
What toys did you play with as a child? Did you have a favorite toy?
Hanna I loved to build huts both inside and outside in the forest with just anything I could find. I had a soft monkey that I really loved and that I placed in doll-houses for example.
Magdalena I didn’t really have a specific favorite toy, except my teddy bear. I remember that I used different objects and material to build my own space. It was much open-ended play in my childhood.
Marta I loved to draw, and build some sort of scenographies with textiles or sticks, togetheter with my younger sister. Together we could transform many things into play. I had few favourite toys, but they were changing.
If you look into a crystal ball and predict your future as a designer: what children’s product would you like to design next?
Hanna Something open-ended and maybe modular, also with kids as co-designers in the process.
Magdalena I would like to design products together with children and with a sustainable mind, products that can last for generations.
Marta It would be great to see more of products suitable for children outside home and school environment. Kids are a big part of our society, but most of the public spaces and furnitures don’t give space for play.