ISSUE 6 – Children
- Best Design Find
- Children’s Storage Solutions
- Designing a Bedroom for Teenagers
- Safety Regulations in your Children’s bedroom
- Portrait of…
Best Design Find
SPYNTEX is a chair like no other. Made of 100% recyclable composite materials, the emphasis is as much on the imagination that goes into the creation of it, as the chair itself. The assembly process is dead simple: just slide the bars together to create a chair that is exactly the right height and curvature for you.There is even an app which shows you how to create the different designs, step-by-step. Somehow they’ve managed to remove all the flat-pack induced stress of building furniture and making it into a way for families to spend time together and express their creative ideas.
It’s so simple that even little children can do it, turning it into a family game – who can make the most exciting chair? (Or seesaw? Or spaceship?) The sets comprise of a number of long and short bars, available in nine different colours and two different sizes, one for adults, one for children. They are strong and durable, suitable for use both indoor and outdoor – and is of course eco friendly.
The engineering behind SPYNTEX is actually based on another award-winning Lithuanian project, SPYNDI, which uses natural wood and copper edging. After SPYNDI’s success, they wanted to create a more affordable, more playful version – namely, SPYNTEX. In late 2016, they launched an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign nearly tripling their goal. Their plan is to start production in the first half of 2017 and to start shipping from October 2017.
Some SPYNTEX facts
Adult set: 61 bars in total: 16 short (185 mm) & 45 long (555 mm)
Kids set: 41 bars in total: 16 short (92 mm) & 25 long (370 mm)
Weight per set: Adult set – c.18 kg; Kids set – c.6 kg.
Durability: water-resistant and can hold practically any weight.
Material: innovative conglomerate, 100% recyclable composite material, patented engineering solution, that provides the fascinating end result of modern esthetics and achieves remarkable durability.
Colours: a choice of 9 different colours that match together opening even more space for creativity.
Children’s Storage Solutions
When it comes to storage solutions for children’s rooms, it is always hard to combine playfulness with practicality. Whether they are 6 or 16, it might be an idea to bring them in on some of the design decisions – and if they feel they are part of the design process and have some control of the overall look, it might even encourage them to keep it tidy!
- A teenager’s needs
A house can vividly express the personalities and lives of the people who live in it. This becomes perhaps even more relevant for teenage girls and boys who are no longer children and yet not quite adults. They no longer play on the floor but sit at their desk in front of their computer, or lie on their bed listening to music. Suddenly the bedroom that doubled up as a playroom might become a study instead – as well as a walk-in wardrobe, DJ practice room and somewhere to sit with friends. In terms of design and storage, this is the time to recycle and re-think. Where you once had two clothes rails in the wardrobe for child-sized outfits, keep only one and add a mirror to the inside of the wardrobe door. The boxes that used to keep their toys can be customized to hold shoes and accessories instead. You may need to install larger format shelves to hold all the school text books and folders. Upholstery can also play a large role in transforming the room into something more ‘grown up’: you could try re-upholstering the childhood toy trunk, or hanging curtains to divide the space into different areas.
- A bed with height
If there isn’t enough room for an extra cupboard or wardrobe, think about elevating the bed to make room for storage below. You could even consider a semi-bunk bed, with a desk, a chest of drawers or small shelves underneath. Setting the under-bed furniture on wheels makes it easy to bring out during the day and put back when it’s not needed.
- Multipurpose furniture
Think about pieces of furniture that can double up as something else, such as this beautifully multi-functional Dice furniture, designed by Torafu Architects for both children and adults. This three-sided piece of furniture can be flipped over to reveal different functions: a children’s desk, small shelves and a stool for adults. Torafu also make a wonderful children’s chair that transforms into a dolls house.
- Objects with a new purpose
Beautiful baskets are a great way to store and quickly put away soft toys and smaller items at the end of the day. A trunk is an easy way to store bed linen, blankets and towels, and can also be used as a chair or a table. Common household items like large kitchen jars or containers can be repurposed for holding anything from crayons to Playmobil. Try labelling boxes, drawers and containers using photos or drawings of the items inside as a playful way to remind your child which things go where.
- A wall devoted to storage for the little ones
Toys and things that are used most often are best stored in lower drawers. Drawers are also a good place to stash away items that can look messy, such as boxes of games, or piles of Brio train sets. Special keepsakes and seldom-used items can be stored higher up. That way, a favourite teddy bear or book is easily accessible while more fragile things are neatly displayed off the floor and out of reach.
Designing a bedroom for teenagers
Whether you want to completely re-decorate, or think up clever storage solutions for an ever-expanding handbag collection, we are here to help you and your child manage this sometimes tricky transition to a more ‘grown-up’ bedroom.
Earlier this year we embarked on such a project, which seemed simple enough on the surface, but in fact proved an exciting challenge for our joiners and the design team, which included members of the client’s family.
The brief was to refurbish a relatively small room into the perfect bedroom for a teenage girl. Every nook and cranny was to be put to use, making space for all the text books, workbooks, folders, school bags, pencils – not to mention the clothes, shoes, accessories and everything else a 13 year old needs. The solution, a new fully fitted wardrobe and workspace that would cater for her as she grows up.
The existing wardrobe had been set behind a false wall so before work could begin, this had to be ripped out and the space reassessed. Our joiners then started from scratch, building in situ and thereby generating about 30% more space to include extra drawers, adjustable shelves and rails for long and short hangings. The interior was veneered with oak and lit with LED strip lights activated by a motion sensor.
The second stage of the project involved building a big, comfortable L-shaped desk, located in one corner next to the window. Once on site, we realized we were able to remove another false wall that covered the original brickwork and immediately add about 25cm to the width of room. Drawers, cupboards and niches were then fitted underneath the desk, and shelves built right to the ceiling.
With some careful thought and clever joinery, this room was transformed into a beautiful working bedroom, perfect for its new occupant.
In fact, the company have recently completed a number of similar projects that transformed a child’s bedroom into one more suited to young adults.
A second brief also involved fitting an entire wall with bespoke wardrobes, shelving and storage for the bedroom of a 16 year old girl. She wanted a much more modern look than she had had previously, which we achieved by using soft light colours – and introducing fun touches, such as a feather lampshade.
A third project included the ‘freshening-up’ of another girl’s bedroom. The walls were painted in the same chic shades as the rest of the apartment but splashes of colour were added to inject the room with a very different vitality from, say, her parent’s bedroom. For example, a beautiful Osborne & Little wallpaper was used to set off the teak bed frame and the Moroccan turquoise of the new chest of drawers.
Updating a bedroom can be an exciting project for both child and parent. Whether you want to make the investment into bespoke furniture or just create a more ‘grown-up’ atmosphere the results will dramatically change the way it is used and can help stop teenage ‘spread’ into kitchens, dining rooms, family rooms, etc.
Safety Regulations in your child’s bedroom
Design should be beautiful but it should also be functional and safe. We look at just some of the existing regulations for children’s products and what to consider when choosing a piece of furniture or accessory for your child’s bedroom.
For a number of consumer products, European Standards play a crucial role in defining the level of safety to be found on the market. Even after Brexit these laws will continue to influence our lives. Here are 4 examples:
The Toy Safety Directive was implemented into national legislation in 2011. All toys presented for sale in the UK must bear the CE marking and the name and address of the person who first placed the toy on the market. The CE mark is a declaration by the manufacturer that the product satisfies essential safety requirements and can be sold within the European Union.
A number of accidents each year are caused by using a baby walker. Often thought to be a good way of teaching children to walk, the increased mobility and elevated height means that the child could actually be at a greater risk of falling down stairs, or reaching up and pulling objects down onto themselves. Make sure yours does the following: conforms to European standard EN1273:2005; is too wide to fit through doorways; has a gripping mechanism to stop it from going over the edge of a step.
Everyone loves a bunk bed, and the health and safety rules are fairly self-explanatory (don’t fall out of the top bunk, don’t slip on the ladder, etc.). Children under 6 shouldn’t really be sleeping on the upper bunk anyway, but for children of all ages you should make sure the guardrails are set up on both sides of the top bunk, and extend to at least 16cm above the mattress. Make sure to check that there is no opening between the mattress and headboard/footboard – having finally got them to sleep, you really don’t need a stray book or toy falling through the crack and waking up the child underneath!
Toy chest or trunk
A chest is always a good solution for keeping a child’s bedroom floor clear of toys. Check that the chest conforms to Standard EN 71-1:2011, which ensures that the hinge will hold open at any position, and that there are good ventilation holes. Also make sure there is no latch – and that the lid is light enough to be easily opened by the children, in the hope that they might start to put their own toys away…!
Imagine the walls of your children’s bedroom becoming the background to their stories, where flying pigs, talking donkeys, and dinosaurs dressed in stripy tops find refuge in beautiful woodland wallpaper scenes.
Xian ‘Sian’ Zeng’s creations for the young at heart are fresh and innovative.
Born in China, Xian Zeng relocated to Hungary with her parents when she was seven years old. She later moved to London where she graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA in Textile Design.
Now designing under her own brand, Sian Zeng, her work is inspired by fairy tales, imaginative scenes drawn from her own experiences as well as quirky interiors. She loves stories that ‘are funny and a bit weird’ and also has a huge admiration for Vogue photographer Tim Walker, whose entrancing photographs are every bit as surreal as they are evocative.
With her magnetic wallpaper, Sian Zeng wanted to create something that allows users to tell their own tales using removable magnetic characters and buildings and dry-wipe speech bubbles.
There are currently four collections. Dino is the most obviously child-centric collection and creates a magical land of diplodocuses, t-rexes and the occasional flying grand piano. Woodlands offers a whimsical adventure through forests with tiny cottages and little hedgehogs. Seasons feature tropical blooms, winter snowdrifts and autumnal clouds that would be an elegant way to brighten up any bedroom. The Classic Hua Trees mural, either in dusky pink or pale grey, reflects her dual European/Chinese cultural heritage.
The murals are immersive and mesmerizing, and for Xian Zeng, that’s a big part of the appeal: she wants you to ‘feel like you are part of it”. Elegant, subtle and whimsical without being overpowering or kitsch: these wallpapers strike a perfect balance.
She also creates amazingly intricate fabric wall stickers – a metre-high tree for instance – that can easily be stuck to the walls, giving a room a single focal point. She has also developed a collection of art prints, cards and textiles, including bed linen, cushions (even a gigantic stuffed pair of scissors), uniting fantasy and reality in a poetic, unexpected way.
Her creative process is both traditional and contemporary. She loves trying new techniques, mixing Chinese inks and brushes, gouache, even highlighters and sponges, before scanning all the drawings and collating them on Photoshop to create the final composition. The wallpaper is all printed in England using earth friendly inks on paper from sustainable forests.