Small people need small chairs. Children’s furniture and design has always been an area of interest for the greats, as well as their storied or private clients; but the world of diminutive design isn’t just taking adult-size thinking and shrinking it down.
'Great child design is inspired by the needs of children; there is [a] way in which children use their bodies with furniture that adults do not even think of,' says Lora Appleton of Kinder Modern. The expertly curated gallery of 20th and 21st century children’s design has paired up with Miami’s Gallery Diet for 'Wrap Your Arms Around Me', a new exhibition running until 1 September. Children are 'physically smaller than us, playful but also in need of parameters or guidance', Appleton explains. 'The show is specifically a reference to this duality.'
Both historical and contemporary designers are represented. 'It's always important to contextualise contemporary production with the history it comes out of,' Appleton says. That means juxtaposing Hans Brockhage and Erwin Andra's 'Schaukelwagen (Rocking car)' from 1950 – included in the famous MoMA exhibition 'Century of the Child 1900–2000' – with recent star Lucas Maassen's new 'Le Chaise' chairs, famously painted by his three adolescent sons. There are also German designer Henner Kuckuck’s rubber/steel/Formica chairs from the 1990s alongside newcomer and Yale MFA sculptor, Nate Heiges, whose 'Born From Widows' piece is 'a very elegant, simple and abstracted representation of text,' suited for the child’s mind, says Appleton.
Overall, the exhibition confronts 'the biggest changes in child design now as compared to the past', says Appleton. The show looks to reveal 'the high level of craftsmanship that went into production in the past, as well as the playfulness and experimentation with materials that occurred', and how 'things are beginning to change'.