A bit of a cliché, and an easily parodied one at that, is ‘speaking as a parent’. It’s often comically presented as a warning of the imminent spewing of irrelevance – or else as the drawing of breath before a sanctimonious tirade.
Yet, in defence of the unglamorous appearance of those apparently unhinged parents ever on the verge of uttering the phrase, having children really does seem to make the whole world change. For example, your job is no longer your job but suddenly a distraction from what you are supposed to be – now full-time chaperone, chef and entertainer.
These strange new childish demands on adult consciousness have at least one tangible consequence besides sleepless nights and annoying sayings: the huge market for retail products aimed at children and their parents. The parenting books, the child psychology and the teaching manuals are all attempts to decode the instinct that, beneath all the bemusing infantile simplicity, something very important is going on in our children.
Though it may not plumb the depths of child development, there is an interesting new range of children’s furniture with solid consideration for exactly what it is like to speak as a parent. Each piece finds new ways of engaging children, using space and encouraging creative learning. These have already had parents drooling at their sheer innovation and supreme functionality. Everyone who has had kids – even some of those who have only ever been kids – delight at how suited they are to the desires and needs of little ones.
The core designs, entirely new to the market, consist of the:
LED Wonder Easel
This creative and educational approach is present in all the products. The LED Wonder Easel provides a desk and easel for arts and crafts, which, with its backlit surface, allows children to gain essential artistic skills of imitation by copying versions of masterpieces secured beneath their paper. A child’s first instinct is try to copy behaviour, a remarkable tendency that sees them repeat sounds and actions. When learning to speak, they repeat what you say. The words sound funny and awkward at first, but bit by bit they learn to articulate and pronounce them more distinctly. It’s the same for painting: copying may be an absolute stigma amongst adult artists, but it’s the essential first step for children just beginning to paint and hold pencils. This easel, which opens out into a desk, provides the perfect tool – light – for enhancing childhood learning, and it does so in a handy little unit that also has storage space for art supplies.
Arts and Crafts Table
Likewise, the Arts and Crafts Table provides a space for immersive creative learning: it features a low table with storage for arts supplies and a mechanism to make tidy use of long sheathes of paper. It is a brilliant, clutter-free solution for young artists, with a large surface great for all sorts of artistic and creative endeavours. The paper feeds through a specially designed cut in the table, while two strong magnetic bars hold it down, ensuring that it is kept taut. Its shelving unit features six individual fabric boxes for storing bits of cloth, collage materials, stationery, pipe-cleaners, stencils, chalks – all the artistic paraphernalia that comes in handy when inspiration strikes.
The Construction Centre is almost every child’s dream. It uses a blackboard base and cube-like structure to form a versatile landscape on which young hands and minds can build imaginary worlds. The idea was to create something which could contain and enhance the space on which children build. The flat surface of the Centre is great for placing any construction sets, railways or toys, and, being covered with blackboard, kids can also use it to draw chalk rivers, roads and everything necessary for their game. The top construction makes the sky accessible, allowing for the dangling of planes, planets, birds and clouds. And if you remove the drawers within the Centre – two self-standing units back-to-back, which can then be used for storage elsewhere – the lower surface of the structure can be transformed into an underground land, as it’s made from blackboard too. This Construction Centre offers great clutter-free and organising solutions at the same time as a wonderful play space: 6 drawers with numerous containers of different sizes in which to store parts, toys and lego. No mess means no stray pieces – or that’s the idea, at least!
One final thing to note is that the company, named Woodquail, which is responsible for these fantastic pieces of children’s furniture, has a single principle that means that all these pieces are united by the material from which they are made. Woodquail, simply put, specialises in the use of bamboo as a building material for furniture and accessories. Aptly named – if at first a little confusingly! – after a family of shy, rare birds particularly affected by deforestation in the Americas, Woodquail aims to give voice to its namesake’s plight and, through its business, give this bird a chance to thrive. It does so by promoting the use of a wonderfully eco-friendly resource – bamboo – which offers a strong, clean and stylish alternative to traditional woods. And the company doesn’t limit itself to the bigger picture. As they say, the devil’s in the detail, and Woodquail applies its principles of conservation and smart use of resources to even the smallest components of what they offer for the modern home. Their products tend to be modest, innovative and hopeful.
Environmentally friendly, hypoallergenic and stronger than white oak, bamboo is wonderfully child-friendly. Speaking as a parent, I know that children use all things in many ways beyond their purpose. When the child walks on the tabletop, imagining it a stage, sits in the drawers or paints on the surface, it is important that the piece of furniture is built from something wonderfully practical – it is only a bonus that it’s really rather attractive too.
It is fitting, then, that Woodquail’s lead range of products is a uniquely designed selection of furniture aimed at children’s play and development. Chic, minimalist ideals for eco-friendly modern living meets (OK, perhaps a little unexpectedly!) all the mess and stress and love of bringing up a child. Either way, it is the future that is being thought out, and, though the people at Woodquail acknowledge that environmental and child developmental success are much harder to achieve than we might like to believe, following the right principles is a good beginning.
The full range of Woodquail’s children’s furniture is currently available to buy at http://finoak.com/bamboo-products/childrens-furniture.