Lately we have been working on an interesting and challenging assignment. Startup Athom asked us to make a soft toy based on their product Homey.

This little futuristic white ball connects all devices at your home, even different brands and technologies, and makes it possible to control your home from one app.

It was challenging to translate such a technological product into an object made out of fabric. Especially the small ring of rainbow-hued light and the three tiny ball-shaped feet pushed our creativity.

The nice thing about taking assignments which are slightly out of your comfort zone is that you discover and learn things you would normally not. In this case we discovered a company that prints custom designs and designs from independent designers on fabric. Their digital print process uses eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks and dyes which produce very little waste. This offered us a solution for the rainbow-hued ring and also creates quite some opportunities for future work. The tiny ball shaped feet of the ball made us learn how to make felt balls. This new skill might come in handy in the future.

We, and luckily our client as well, were very happy with the end-result. The Homey now has a sweet and cuddly family member standing on the desk of the office of Athom.

Barcelona based brand Bobo Choses is known for colourful humorous kid’s clothing in comfortable shapes. The brand was founded in 2008 by two friends and mothers Adriana Esperalba and Laia Aguilar. Having a background in graphic design, they created a very recognisable form language. But Bobo Choses also differentiates itself by telling stories through clothing, addressing many social issues such as plastic polluting the sea, honey bees disappearing globally and children’s ability to convey confusing emotions.

At Bobo Choses they believe that children can inspire and teach adults on how to care for the Earth. Adraina Esperalba explains that Bobo Choses is not a clothing brand; Bobo Choses is a way to understand the world. Their W.I.M.A.M.P. (worldwide inventive minds against monsters of pollution) 2017 collection was conceived as a social project, resulting in a donation to Ocean Conservancy. The year after, love and care for the animal kingdom was the main topic of the W.I.M.A.M.P. ’18 collection.

Bobo Choses new Spring Summer 2019 collection To Make a Garden is a global call for saving the bees by planting gardens everywhere, everytime. They present a colourful world full of happy children running around in nature, planting seeds, picking flowers and eating fresh fruits; our future generation ready to save the world. ’Make the bees happy. Never stop planting!’

The way Bobo Choses speaks to children, makes them aware of the world around them and tries to contribute to a better future is playful and full of hope and colour. At the moment Kaplum is developing a project around the pressing problem of plastic soup. We are constantly looking for the right language. How do you address children and their parents at the same time? How can you talk about a very alarming and disturbing problem, but at the same time stay connected with the adventurous and playful world of kids? In this sense Bobo Choses is a great example.

A while ago we visited the annual fair Design Icons in Amsterdam. In-between lots of famous designer chairs, tables and lamps we saw two beautiful small pieces especially made for children: Kristian Vedel’s Child’s Chair and Hans Brockhage’s Schaukelwagen. Both the chair and the rocking car are from the 1950’s, use bent-plywood and stimulate inventive play.

Kristian Vedel explained that his goal was to create a combination of a child’s chair and a toy, ‘which would appeal to children’s imagination and to their varying physical and psychological needs.’ Vedel was one of the first designers to take children’s furniture seriously. Instead of miniaturising adult designs, he started to develop objects that responded to the ways children develop, move and play. His Child's Chair, composed of a slotted half-circle of bent-plywood and four louse slide-in planar elements, invites children to turn the various pieces into a seat, a table, a rocking toy or anything else they can imagine.

Hans Brockhage’s Schaukelwagen in not as free in use as Vedel’s chair, but it still stimulates children to turn things around and change the purpose of the object. When Brockhage studied at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, he followed a seminar about children’s toys given by Dutch designer Mart Stam. Working on a rocking horse, Mart Stam challenged Brockhage to ‘make a horse that isn’t dead when it falls over.’ This resulted in a rocking horse with a bent-plywood seat that inverts to become a car. A laddered arched beach frame can be used for pushing or climbing.

For now Kaplum is focusing on wooden toys and plushies, but in the future we hope to include children furniture. Seeing these elegant simple pieces that puts the playful and imaginative world of children at the heart of their design, makes us very eager to start working on our own designs.

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