July 12 2010
Some four-year-olds can’t be separated from their teddy bear. Others form ferocious attachments to cushions, blankets, sippy cups or their thumb. My godson Tim, however, gets worked up into a lather over his armchair: a square-shaped spongey thing that he insists on dragging around the house with him, toppling ornaments and yanking plugs from wall sockets as he goes.
Arguably, he is testimony to the success of the children’s furniture that is imported and distributed throughout the UK by Studio UK, a Newcastle-based company. It was created by leading Italian designers working in collaboration with the Reggio consultancy of Italy, and the philosophy behind it was to design and create furniture for children that is stimulating and educational. These pieces are not the usual miniaturised versions of adult furniture; their sometimes strange-looking designs – tables, cabinets, containers and play equipment – are the result of years of research into children’s imaginations and how they respond to different stimuli.
This fusion of the functional and the playful in the life of a growing child has certainly found favour with Tim when it comes to his “chair”. As well as functioning as something to be sat on, the chair also serves as a bouncy castle and a pillow on which to take a doze. When upended it is a table from which to eat his dinner or a shelter in which to hide from monsters. It’s a job and a half to get him to go to bed without the chair and even then he has to have it wedged between himself and the wall.
To me he is like a tortoise who carries his little home with him everywhere. To his mother, the chair is both blessing and curse. The blessing is that it keeps him happy; the curse arises when she has to try and wedge the two of them into the supermarket trolley at Waitrose.
Prices from around £150.