by Laura Goldstein
If you grew up in the late 60s and 70s you’ll remember that the Bean Bag Chair (knock-offs came in corduroy and fake fur,) were the height of flower-power fab and could be found in every teen’s rec room and college dorm. Flopping into it was no problem – like being swallowed by a giant pillow – but getting up, especially in a mini skirt, required finesse. And yes, the originals were actually filled with dried beans, rice or corn that exuded that comforting sshush sound with every movement but often left their tell-tale impressions on the lower extremities because the inexpensive fabric was too thin.
High-end children’s furniture (including nursery) is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry in North America and not surprisingly at this year’s Milan Design Week, kids’ furniture emerged as one of the hottest trends for 2017. Brands such as Kartell, Mooi, Vitra Artek and Magis renowned for their adult pieces, all enlisted designers to create children’s furniture consistent with their parent’s tastes and at high ticket prices. These are not Mini-Me reproductions of adult classic mid-century designs like the Eames chairs and tables or the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, all of which are widely available. Rather, it’s an investment in nostalgia with a modern twist. Or think of it this way-you’ll never have a screw left over after spending half a day to assemble something that falls apart after a year.
“People who understand and appreciate good design are looking for the same quality and longevity in their children’s furniture acquisitions too,” says Nancy Bendtsen, co-owner of Inform Interiors Inc. in Vancouver. “It’s not a status thing either. Of course these parents are affluent, but the great thing is because our store is 53-years old, we’ve seen a few generations coming back. They’ve been brought up with the good stuff and have respect for it, like art. Often designer pieces are passed down to children who have grown up and are now furnishing their own apartments or homes.”
The original Bean Bag Chair called Sacco, was created in leather in 1968 by Italian designers, Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini, and Franco Teodora for Zanotta. Way ahead of their time, it was very ergonomically friendly because it kept its pear-shape contoured to the body. Ironically, it was designed to be anti-bourgeois and yet became a global symbol of hippie culture. Over the years, Zanotta has improved the materials, developing a transparent non-rigid PVC envelope with countless pieces of white polystyrene popcorn inside the fabric cover, though still can’t be recycled. It became such an iconic piece of pop-culture that Sacco can be found in the permanent collections at MOMA, New York, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Triennale Design Museum in Milan.
“We still carry it in today’s updated standards and contemporary designs,” says Bendtsen. “It’s available in a variety of durable zippered, changeable covers for easy cleaning.”
$437 through informinteriors.com
2017 continues a major trend of families spending more time together, often in smaller apartment spaces where an open concept interior discourages extraneous clutter. And, cool kids’ furniture is not necessarily relegated to the bedroom anymore and in many cases, can be used by the entire family.
Panton’s Living Tower by Vitra resembles giant organic puzzle pieces on four distinct polyurethane wool upholstered seating levels. With a stable understructure of birch plywood and positioned against a wall, it was originally designed in 1968 by Denmark’s, Verner Panton to be a “living landscape to increase family communication.” (obviously before Smart phones were invented.) It has a jungle gym vibe for both parents and children and your cat will also thank you!
$21,925 through informinteriors.com
What child or harried adult wouldn’t love their own Flying Carpet? Designed by Ana Mir and Emili Padrós of Spanish company, Nanimarquina, the soft topography of this 3D red or green space uses felt wedges to create imaginative interchangeable slopes for kid’s play. Park it in any room.
$2,596 through informinteriors.com
Spun, by British product designer Thomas Heatherwick for Magis, looks deceiving – like a modern sculpture if placed in the living room or to me, a giant Chanukah dreidel. Take it outside on the patio, and parents will beg their kids to give them a turn in this chair that spins like a top.
$899. through informinteriors.com
Dutch product, interior designer, Moooi co-founder and self-proclaimed “adult child” Marcel Wanders, has earned the moniker “the Lady Gaga of design” for his witty and provocative furniture designs. In his first collaboration with Cybex, (a producer of high-end exercise equipment, this is the company’s first foray into furniture manufacture,) Wanders recently launched the Cybex Parents Collection For Kids. His quilted Monster Chairs inspired by cartoons and Manga figures combine personality with safety and functionality.
For prices Inquire through marcelwanders.cybex-online.com
The award-winning Little Field of Flowers by Tord Bootje for Nanimarquina allows your teen to tiptoe through the tulips indoors…well almost. The hand-loomed, soft wool felt flower carpets are available in green, purple, red and ecru and come in three sizes, really emphasizing how far 3D carpets have evolved.
$5,526 (U.S.) available in three sizes through Bonaldo, Montreal.
Jaime Hayon’s Green Chicken is the eccentric Spanish designer’s take on the iconic rocking horse. Hayon, who is a featured speaker at Toronto’s upcoming Interior Design Show in January, says “the chicken, a rather unexplored shape, found its place amongst my green dreams. I wanted to portray this common bird as a sensational object by amplifying its characteristics and dimensions, turning it into a modern piece, one of great beauty and utility: a rocking chair.”
Inquire through hayonstudio.com
“2017 will also see more interesting kid’s furniture in public spaces, libraries, charitable organizations and schools,” says Ottilie Nienkamper, Corporate Marketing and Media Relations for Toronto’s corporate division of nienkamper. “Sylvio Russo is a sculptor and engineer who moved from Italy to Toronto and has designed a colourful and playful Zoo Desk collection of interlocking plywood reindeer, elephant, bison and even giant pieces of Swiss cheese,” says Nienkamper. He’s added stackable seals and cats to his menagerie of Zoo Stools and will customize a cut-out maple leaf for an ultra-Canadian flourish.
Zoo 4-person desk is $7,120; 1-person desk, $1,780
Zoo Stools: $532. each at nienkamper.com