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.