Why do you design play furniture for children?
Children are cute little blobs of organs. They are still exploring the world and forming their sensibilities. Stumbling around open to new experiences, you’ll find them turning every object into a toy they can play with. Products don’t have fixed definitions of how they should be used. And honestly, why should that be the case. These miniature beings function very differently from adults and so should everything they use. I worked on the design of Zipp as part of a classroom project in National Institute of Design. I wanted to design a piece of furniture which triggers play and allows more space for them to jump about.
What was your inspiration for your play furniture Zipp kids?
Children are agile inquisitive creatures, running around, bending, twisting, throwing everything that falls into their hands. Fixed furniture not only restricts their movement but also its hard surfaces with complex assembly makes it rather dangerous for children. Toying around with the concept of folding furniture, I designed a method to cut, fold and fasten a single foam sheet to make a seat. The seam of the zipper gives it enough stiffness to take the weight of a child. The use of single sheet material simplifies the manufacturing process, drastically reducing cost and making recycling easier.
How do children respond to your zipp kids furniture?
It was fun watching kids find their own ways of playing with the product. Kids enjoyed this unique way of making their own seat. They wanted to zip it up, sit on it or make it their own little toy basket. Each of them soon picked their favorite color, not ready to part with their new toy.
Are there other products that you design specifically for children?
Not yet. But I would love to work on more products for children as it is still an untapped industry with a lot of scope for design innovation.
Meaningful design for kids – what does that mean for you?
Understanding the user is a very important part of design development. Designing for children gives an opportunity to dive into the whimsical world of these tiny humans. Its important for these designs to invoke curiosity and allow creative freedom. Breaking away from the conventional is the first step to designing for children.
A few personal questions at the end: What toys did you play with as a child? Did you have a favorite toy?
I grew up playing with all kinds of toys from stuffed animals to puzzles and building blocks. As a child, I would get bored very easily and constantly came up with new games and fantastical stories while playing with other kids. The little lesson on sharing got ingrained in me during those initial years of playing with others.
If you look into a crystal ball and predict your future as a designer: what children’s product would you like to design next?
Technology has become a major part of our lives. This has led to a more isolated and sedentary lifestyle from a very early age. I would like to design products which focus on active movement and interaction between children. It’s important to design products that help develop their cognitive and social skills and retain the most incredible aspects of being a child.
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