WantedDesign is a platform dedicated to promoting design and fostering the local and international creative community throughout the year.
Teaching Kids the Power of Design
Teaching Kids the Power of Design
WantedDesign expanded its already strong design education platform to reach out to a new group at this year’s show: kids.
Education has always been a core tenet of our program, starting first with our Design School Workshops connecting college-aged design students across the globe. WantedDesign has always prioritized design training and is now expanding that to an even younger generation. Today’s school-aged kids live in a world where success demands creativity and innovation. We believe teaching design early fosters children’s innate creativity and will continue to grow with them.
“This is the core of what we believe: Great design equals smart and happy kids,” said Lora Appleton, founder of kinderMODERN. “It goes way beyond pretty shapes into the formation of ideas at an early age.”
KinderMODERN was one of three presenters, along with West coast Nursery Works and Brooklyn-based Oeuf, at this year’s show that focused on kid-centered design. All three brands leveraged the founders’ love of design and adapted it to fit the lifestyle and needs of a younger audience. The companies were born out of necessity when founders like Appleton and Oeuf’s Sophie Demenge couldn’t find baby furniture and products that fit their design or quality standards. Rather than lament the lack of great options, all three companies have set out to change the narrative.
“It started in 2002 while expecting our daughter, Mae,” said Demenge. “We couldn’t find anything that fit our aesthetics nor quality standards, so we decided to make all of our daughter’s furniture and accessories ourselves. It was a really exciting project, and we had great feedback so we decided to just launch the line shortly thereafter.”
Appleton had a near parallel story, nothing that she couldn’t find design-forward furniture and accessories when designing her new son’s nursery.
“Having always been a furniture design collector and addict, I wanted to bring things into my home that worked with my bold aesthetic and style yet felt fresh and chic,” said Appleton. “I have an awesome vintage furniture collection and started to see what child pieces may be out there. Poof! The idea came. I decided to build a collection of original child pieces from the 1920s through the 1980s.”
The result is stunning pieces of design that would be as at home in an adult living room as a child’s playroom. Products like the neon yellow-legged Mini Ant Chair from KinderMODERN, the sleek Perch bunk bed from Oeuf, or the standout Gradient crib from Nursery Works.
While the work certainly delights parents who don’t have to sacrifice great design for dumbed-down children’s products, the products are also meant to inspire children and give them the chance to interact with modern design at any age. By using color, shape, and different materials, the designers engage and delight children.
“It’s meant to inspire them to think about things differently,” says Appleton. “It’s almost an unconscious message.”
Even subtler, clean-lined designs can benefit children by giving them a blank canvas on which to project their own creations, notes Demenge: “I don’t think kids need any help in developing their creative mind other than being engaged and respected. Design should be simple and practical…or at the very least not get in the way of their inquisitive minds.”