If you read my entry on the Children’s room at the Seattle Library yesterday, you might assume I’m a mother. After all most childless adults don’t spend much time talking about children’s design, right? Probably true. Nevertheless, I’ve been drawn to spaces and objects designed for children ever since I was one.
Part of this attraction, now at least is pure biology. I’ve always loved kids and now that I’m 27 and married, my body is practically screaming with impatience. My womb keeps demanding to know what the holdup is. Fortunately I am (mostly) a rational being, so intellectually at least I know that it’s not quite time for children. Soon, but not yet.
That doesn’t keep me from looking at children’s spaces though (which in turn makes my hormones even more demanding, but never mind that) because the real draw of child specific design is the lack of restrictions and extreme resourcefulness. In adult spaces we are limited by what is acceptable, to some extent what is normal. It is a rare person that will actually paint a mural on the living room wall (ooh me, me!) but a mural in a children’s room is pretty standard. A piece of furniture that looks like a boat? Most grown ups would never consider it, which is a shame, because plenty of grown ups like boats just as much as kids do.
Another reason I enjoy looking at kid friendly design is that children’s spaces are often confined to smaller spaces: all the collected stuff of an eight year old somehow needs to be fit into a 10 X 10 foot room (even if it never really is), something most adults haven’t tried to do at least since college. The result is that children’s magazine often come up with storage and organization solutions that don’t appear in the organization and storage magazines until six months or a year later. Craft magazines are creative by nature, but even they borrow liberally from children’s spaces.
Two of my favorite blogs are Daddy Types and Playscapes. Daddy Types looks at unique and beautiful design for children’s spaces, not only modern inventions but abandoned retro objects that are still fascinating today. Playscapes, not surprisingly, looks at playgrounds, but focuses on innovative play spaces beyond the standard slide and swingset. Matt and I stumbled across one of the featured playgrounds recently when we were in San Fransisco, which was fun: I recognized it by the giant stone slide carved into the hillside, but was most impressed by the rope jungle gym.
Maybe in a few years or so Matt and I will have a child’s space to play with, but in terms of design it doesn’t really matter. I plan to paint a mural in our living room. Fortunately Matt seems agreeable. I hope I won’t bore myself by becoming too much of an adult in design, or in most ways. I want to keep child-like design everywhere I live, because I want to make sure my space pushes the boundaries of what is expected.