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Little helpers children's furniture


The 'little helpers' furniture collection, created by italian designer elena nunziata for her degree at the university of the arts, london, focuses on providing educational and engaging furniture for use by children.

Nunziata reflects: "the project examines contemporary families and relationships of their members, analyzing how children engage with the domestic environment and their parents, with the purpose of turning ordinary chores into playful activities. The relevance is on the one hand to improve how children interact within their space exploring their power of imagination, on the other to allow parents to build a bridge between their own needs and those of their children."

The 'paddy' coat rack collection has 'eyes' as knobs that can be spun around.

While on the coat stand, children can adjust the rods' position through the central pole.

The eyes of 'melvin the magic bedside table' can be rotated up to reveal lamps within, letting the device function as bedside lamp in addition to table surface and, owing to a cutout shelf, cabinet. Nunziata reflects that the table also serves metaphorically as a figure of a night guardian that watches over the child.

The 'charlie' hamper is nicknamed the ‘dirty clothes eater’, who stores clothes in a lycra sack that allows clothes to accumulate until its belly is full. In this way, children have a visual indication of when it is time to load the washing machine with their parents.

Via DesignBoom.

Kindergarten Design by CEBRA

This new kindergarten design in Vonsild by the Danish architectural firm CEBRA attempts to provide a learning expience for young children stimulating their curiosity and creativity, the architecture facilitating this through play.

"Using the building should be educational and this is why we have deliberately avoided typical building features. The children should learn from this very early stage that a house does not have to look like the typical child drawing with a pitch roof, a door in the middle and a window on each side of it. This building has a jagged roof, it has no corners since everything is rounded and the main volumes have very few right angles. The kindergarten will demonstrate quite effectively that a building can look anyway you want it to." - The Architects

It is the architects' drawings which I find greatly interesting - and shows the rigorous thought process that went into the design. Here is my interpretation of these:

The perceived scale of objects.

The experience or 'journey' through a village - the various 'parts'.

The play of light and shadow.

The different movements through space.

Learning about colour.

Abstract objects versus 'real' objects - for children to interact with.

Surfaces for children to interact with - draw on.

Varying types and sizes of space.

Love the wee detail of Michelangelo's 'Creation' on the ceiling.

Shows a partition opening serving as a link to the second floor and letting light to flood in.

The curving outer wall serves as a roll of paper for children to display their creative works on.

The various 'blobs' serving different activities.

The graduation from interior space to exterior (or landscaped) outdoor space.

Taking the traditional monopitched roof of the house and translating it as a light feature, the jagged form contrasting with the organic and flowing of the outer walls.

Each 'blob' being utilised for a separate activity.

Entrances and exits.

A section showing thermal qualities - light penetration and air flow.

Site plan - shows how the 'blobs' gradually break down and fade into the landscape.

The finished building:

Not quite as successful as I would have hoped. It is a shame that the choice of materials are somewhat bland, sterile and cold. The landscaping is nice, with the grassy mounds and curving paths. Would like to see some photos of the building in use!

Once again the interior's choice of materiality is less than inspiring with the drab vinyl coloured flooring.

The architects here are fairly successful in realising the potentiality for play in kindergarten architecture. However, as it seems with many contemporary examples the architectural environment lacks warmth - a quality that is important for the care and nurturing of young children. The qualities that induce feelings of 'homeliness' and stability.

Moving Smart - moving, growing, knowing

Moving Smart is led by Gill Connell - a mum, grandma, teacher, international lecturer and author of 'Moving to Learn' . The core message is - children need to move to learn - as they say, "it's really that simple!" And yet, today, in our fast-paced, over-scheduled, tech-savvy world it is an idea that is often forgotten.

As it says on it's home page: 'Movement is at the very core of how children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course, physically.'

Moving Smart helps teachers and parents to implement children's natural 'move-to-learn' style through providing programmes and resources.

'Children are natural born citizens of the State of Play' - Gill Connell.

It can be said that experience is the greatest teacher, and for young children much of their experiences comes from their body - their physical and sensory interaction with everyday life (and the architecture), which is helping to grow their brain.

'When it comes to kids, it's never one-size-fits-all' - Gill Connell.

Moving Smart offers Smart Lessons for early childhood designed to optimise the developmental benefits of play - with pre-set play activities, tools for teaching and 'moveography'.

I wonder what Moving Smart will have to say about how the architectural environment can support children's natural movement?

For more listen to this Podcast which talks to Gill Connell on Diy Father.

The development and measure of the child 1-4 years of age

This diagram shows the motor, social and cognitive development and language milestones of the preschool child 1 - 4 years of age.

Click on the image to see in more detail.

Information taken and adapted from Papalia and Wendkos Olds, and The Measure of Man and Woman by Henry Dreyfuss Associates.

Find Create Play Share Inspire...with MakeDo

Makedo came from a love of making, and not just simply making, but making do, to make something new... Love it!

Using design to inspire social change through playful creativity, to inspire children (or adults!) to use their imagination, and to use what is around them.

Makedo is:

A reusable connector system for creating amazing objects and spaces from recycled materials.

Free play.


Created as a cleverly designed system of parts- connectable components and safe tools... 'saw, punch, connect, angle'.


 You can then upload your creation to share with others.


Kids can either use their imagiantion to create unique designs, otherwise use makedo's suggestions which come with simple diagrammed instructions.

See their cool video introducing the concept here:

As seen on The Design Files Guest Blog - How to... makedog, the first ever creation made using makedo's reusable connectors:


Woof woof!


See these simple instructions:


Via The Design Files.

A school in France that nestles itself among the treetops

Buffon School in Thiais, France designed by Edouard Francois & Duncan Lewis, 2005.
Images and text taken from the book: Inspired by Nature: Plants - The Building/Botany Collection

The idea to build a school in the form of a treehouse was conceived by the children and made a reality by architects Edouard Francois and Duncan Lewis. Using the original buildings, the brief was to expand the facilities to cater for more children. The architects took this opportunity to give the buildings a new life - raising them 3 meters off the ground, offering views of the neighbouring park and providing space for play underneath.

The originality of the project was not only in the structural effort required to elevate the classrooms, but also the insertion of the volume between two rows of trees that provide structural support. The facade features vegetal forms concealing the structure and blenidng it with the surrounding trees.

The Nursery - A Short History

From Bill Bryson's 'At Home':

"In the early 1960s, in a hugely influential book called 'Centuries of Childhood', a French author named Phillipe Aries made a startling claim. He declared that before the sixteenth century, at the very earliest, there was no such thing as childhood. There were small human beings, of course, but nothing in their lives made them meaningfully distinguishable from adults. "The idea of childhood did not exist," he pronounced with a certain finality. It was essentially a Victorian invention."

Barbara Tuchman, in 'A Distant Mirror' adds two years later: "Of all the characteristics in which the medieval age difers from the modern, none is so striking as the comparative absence of interest in children." Investing love in young children was so risky - "so unrewarding" - implying emotion as a pointless waste of energy. However, Bryson explains that these views, which became a standard view among historians explains this was a misreading of human nature. That, "there is no doubt that children died in great numbers and that parents had to adjust their expectations accordingly... The figures usually cited are that one-third of children died in their first year of life and half failed to reach their fifth birthdays." However, it is not to say "that parents were any less devastated by a loss than we would be today", says Bryson.

As told by Shakespeare, from 'King John', written soon after Shakespeare's son Hamnet died at the age of eleven in 1596:

"Grief fills the room up of my empty child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts ,
Stuffs out  his vacant garments with his form."

Bill Bryson's book 'At Home - A Short History of Private Life' came about when Bryson began wondering why, from a choice of hundreds of spices, we have settled on salt and pepper as our condiments of preference – why not salt and cardamom, he thought? Daily life, he realised, is not a matter of 'now’: it is centuries of history, piled up and making itself felt every moment of the day. 'Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.’ Using the floorplan of his own house, a Victorian country rectory, he traces the development of ideas, of discovery, of exploration and innovation, that makes 'home’ what it is today.

A funny and interesting read, Bryson shows how far western society has come.


site by Ana Degenaar