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Nursery Design | giggle Blogs

Latest Posts: Nursery Design

February 10, 2011

Muji to Go

How to Muji-Lego

Here’s something I found among the many wonders of the JetBlue terminal at JFK. The design store Muji hasĀ a crafts set combining Legos and paper cutouts which you and your child can color in and assemble into a mini circus, undersea world, or what have you…

The kits are cute and durable enough that you can keep them long after your plane trip is over. When you get home, set them up as dioramas in your child’s room and start a collection. There’s something very Japanese about this, both in its relationship to origami and the product’s innate respect for the intelligence of a child, but then you have a Scandinavian vibe from the Lego as well.

My attempts when I was little to make myself a Calder circus from scratch ended with middling results. But if Muji had been around, I think the flights would have seemed much shorter. Don’t forget to buy the hole puncher!

November 7, 2010

No–All Pink, Daddy

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but guess I felt a little embarrassed by the obviousness of it on a blog where I am supposed to be saying something interesting and original. But what the heck: This is something I think IS design-related, and is definitely parenting-related…Here goes:

Making a birdhouse with your child is a well known and wonderful way to do a crafts project together and teach them something about design. But, and this is my real point here: you yourself may also learn something about THEIR taste. Which is at least of equal importance. I know I’m supposed to be helpful in this space by writing about how to make your kid’s rooms more stylish, and I’ll get back to that soon. But I have to tell you what a rare pleasure it was to work on this birdhouse with my younger daughter Madelyn and be told by her, to my surprise and with no discussion, exactly how she wanted to paint it. I had brought out a whole mess of different colors and thought we would have a red roof, a green perch, and spots like a Damien Hirst everywhere, but I learned instead that my daughter is in some sense a minimalist. Yes, if you’re a kid and you want one color, you are like the Donald Judd of four year olds. And pink counts.

So we did it, and it looks nice, but I found myself thinking a lot about that conversation and subsequent putting away of the unopened paints. You may not know these opinions are in there, but if they are, getting in touch with them will be good for you and and your level of understanding of the budding visual instincts of your child. Plain or splattered, you’ll learn something–And if you are me, you’ll be reminded of something familiar, like the beauty of choosing a simple monochrome paint scheme in a color you want to live with.

Hmm. Isn’t that what my designs are supposed to be all about, anyway?

August 11, 2010

Now, How About This?

Not Easy Being Green With Kermit

Lena Horne Sings the Alphabet

Lena Horne Teaches Grover

Furthering my favorite theme of giving children the best the world has to offer, trusting them to figure it out, and not dumbing it down, check out this clip of the late, great Lena Horne on Sesame Street in the early 1970′s. This isn’t exactly a design post but it does convey everything I try to stand up for in design for kids. Here we have a superb talent, the greatest in the world, and she’s singing to Kermit on a subject which is very hard to deal with in an honest way, let alone with elegance. Try to watch it without tears of admiration, I dare you…

Then have fun learning the alphabet and become a little more outgoing with Grover in the two other clips. But the duet with Kermit will always be my favorite.

June 22, 2010

Louis Louis

Forgive me for promoting myself for a moment, but I have to share something with you which I find very exciting–It’s the launch of my first collection for Maclaren Nursery.

It’s called Louis, and if you look at the shape of the legs it’s easy to see why. There are a lot of different ways to serve up modern style, but lately I have noticed myself getting a little unsurprised in the area of baby furniture design. Most new things looked a lot like the old things Netto did seven years ago, the innovations being more about price than product itself. Nothing wrong with a fair price, but I’m here to make people fall in LOVE with the stuff…

Which is what Louis is all about. It’s a new way to think about Modern, it fulfills the Netto/Maclaren mission of usability for years, and it doesn’t look like anybody else. I just went down to Miami to see it in the window of Genius Jones and then to Giggle in New York and I was so happy, I think you will love this new baby as much as I do. It’s got me excited about designing for this market all over again.

Oh–and the price? That’s new for us too: $950

May 18, 2010

French Matte

Let’s do a little series where we look at movies we love and the things that make them beautiful. Let’s see if we can find some design ideas that would be good for a child’s room, even if they are discovered as part of the most sophisticated set.

I’ll go first: My wife and I just watched “Indiscreet” (1958, Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, directed by Stanley Donen). In Ingrid Bergman’s living room, there is a wall of framed drawings with colorful mattes which are clearly intended to say something about the cheery and impish character who lives there. They are almost themselves a character in the film–which is good because this is not a particularly strong script, to say the least. Everyone’s just enjoying the High Life. Anyway, I think these would be a wonderful way to give a theme and some organization to a child’s room…Not to mention a great way to get some happy colors in there that weren’t because they were on a life-size Barney.

You could frame your own drawing, photographs, or your child’s drawings. You could leave them blank and fill in over time. The point is the mattes and the grid, and even though this was conceived by a great set designer for cosmopolitan effect and to lay out a backdrop for two of the most stylish adults of their time–I think they would be dynamite in a kid’s room.

You know?

April 15, 2010

Can’t We Do This Here?

While recently on a trip to Paris, I determined to take my 8 year-old and 4 year-old daughters to the Louvre. It was time. Even for the 4 year-old, there was no escape. We had come all this way, and I was going to put these California girls in front of some paintings if it killed me. Or them. if only for a few moments.

Just to add insult to injury, I decided to cap the visit with a quick look in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, in the north wing of the Louvre (there’s nothing like lingering among Napoleon’s furniture to revive the spirits of exhausted children after walking the paintings galleries). Just when everyone was braced to fall asleep…Lo and Behold: over the front entrance to one of the most hifalutin’ museums in France there hung a giant Playmobil banner. Turns out the principal exhibit was a Playmobil design retrospective. This show probably gave my children as much pleasure in the twenty minutes we had left before closing as anything else they might have seen in Paris. Liz and I were grinning ear to ear through it, too.

The point is, the Playmobil show was in the same building as the Mona Lisa. This is an attitude toward design–and what constitutes good design–which I find inspirational. It gets kids happy in museums and gets adults thinking about what they look at strewn around on the floor every day in a different way. And I don’t really think an American museum of that stature would have done the show the same way, giving children’s products a place of honor as design objects, or giving Playmobil top billing over the front door on the baroque facade of the national design museum.

Just sayin’. Takes guts, and imagination, and we don’t look at the category of design for kids that way enough yet. Can you imagine the crowds at the Tinkertoys retrospective at MoMA? Come ON!

February 21, 2010

With All Sleep Deprivation Comes Opportunity

flower market 2It’s 6.00 in the morning. You’re child is up–maybe has been up for a while–and you’ve just got to give in and get up too. No more TV with the sound low while you lie there praying for a return to REM, SpongeBob blabbering in the background…

Don’t judge me, fellow parents. You KNOW what I mean–we’ve all been there.

Get up! In the dark. Accept that the day is starting, and the sooner you commit to making it fun for both of you, the sooner you will feel less sorry for yourself. When Kate was around two and prone to these predawn wake ‘em ups, with hours to go before school or camp or any help on the way, I developed a series of activities to get us out of the house and engaged. Write these down, and have about six of them to draw from in the likely case of need. OK, four. But here’s one:

Take your child to the flower market, which is a great place to be at 6 o’clock in the morning. This is easier if you live in a big city, and New York has a great one on 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. All the activity, strange flora, and smells–maybe the best part is the smells–will give your morning together the power of an impulse vacation in the country. Buy some flowers for their grandmother. Let them choose a plant for their room and teach them how to take care of it.

When was the last time you went to the flower market alone? Wait, this kid is doing YOU a favor…

There’s usually a great place to have breakfast. In this case I recommend the McDonald’s on 6th Avenue, where you can sit together and talk about all the things you saw. Before you know it it will be 8.45, and that “lost” two hours has become something really special.

There’s also the fish market, but we’ll save that for another day.

January 24, 2010

Philadelphia 1830-Los Angeles 2010

I came across an interesting thing a couple of days ago…

This crib by renowned American cabinet maker Duncan Phyfe is going to be auctioned in May by Keno Auctions in Stamford, Connecticut. Well, I have to tell you, I just might save up my schlecks and be there. Look at this marvelous object, and think about how far we HAVEN’T come in children’s furniture design since the 1830′s. Granted, this was made by a master craftsman–whose signature style was restraint–for his grandson, but it has none of the quaint antiqueness of a later Victorian metal crib or even many of the American ones from the 1930′s, which read immediately as period pieces. In fact, it’s not old-fashioned at all. But it IS charming, useful (looks like it could fulfill the Netto pledge of converting to adult use–as a bench?), well-designed to be sturdy yet allow air to pass through it, and determined to bring the integrity of grownup furniture to the world of the nursery. Hell, it looks like it might even pass safety testing.

Perhaps the form here is a bit more of a bassinet than a crib to us today, but the point is, this Phyfe Jr. is something I would be very excited to find in a store now. This is the value of simplicity and plainness of line. And if I walked into any giggle store today and saw this with maybe a painted finish instead of what appears to be plum pudding mahogany, and the caning was a little brighter, I would say to myself, “Now why didn’t I design that?”popup

December 28, 2009

Full Gallop

I’m always looking for a way to put something zany into the basically minimalist rooms I like to create. One thing, you know, to show that I’ve still got a goofy streak, despite the onset of advanced middle age.

I always admire decorating that’s really unhinged and is successful without being disciplined–it’s just not one of my gifts to do this, so maybe that’s why I love it when done well by others. In a previous post I discussed the possibility of this anarchic role being filled by a chair…but another good way to bring the volume up, just a little if you’re like me, is through a rug.

Like this one from the incomparable Genius Jones store in Miami. If you want to be inspired, go on their site–owner Dan Kron is a great editor and fellow Modern Baby pioneer. And while I’m putting the same sheepskin rug in every Netto catalog for years, here he comes with this zebra which is utterly charming.

Put it in a modern nursery for punch and do the rest all quiet and white: it’s gonna look great.

Happy New Year!zebragreennavy-T

December 11, 2009

The Importance of Camping Without Going Away

This post, let’s get out of the house for a minute and talk about how true it is that no matter how much you put into the design of an environment, what kids really love to do is create an “undesigned” environment for themselves–one which undoes everything you’ve been striving to give them. I’m talking about the importance of getting together and building pup tents on the floor, teepees in the living room–or, if you live in a warmish climate, as I do–a lean-to outside constructed of fallen branches and the tree-pruning debris we came home to that day.

It must be remembered, no matter how interested you are in taste, that to retain a littThe Importance of Camping Without Going Awayle humility about the significance of such things is vital in relating to the world of the young. And there’s nothing like this exercise to give yourself some:

Plan a campout indoors or in the garden with your kids; surprise them with it instead of whatever you usually do between school and dinner at home. When you see how much fun your children are having in a cardboard box, or building some cozy shelter out of the sofa cushions, the fleeting importance–to them–of decorating will fall sharply into perspective. And the importance of imagination will make itself clear, as it always does. And they will learn how the world can feel differently when viewed from an unfamiliar environment, tingling with adventure, and how the exotic can be right underfoot, even at home.

So forget the decorating for a minute, and let’s make a mess. My daughters Madelyn and Kate like their room, but they loved building this twig house. It was a great time together and many laughs and pictures were taken that would not have been possible in the most beautiful “room” in the world.

And if it weren’t for the coyotes, I might have let them sleep in it.
…Next year.

dn_camping