A few weeks ago I visited the design event 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen. Here I ran into Mina Panic from IO Kids Design, when she exhibited her Bunk Pod and IO House Light. I was quickly drawn towards the two designs, where I got to talk with Mina. We started talking about design, about having children and about how sometimes it can be difficult to furnish with the right furniture for children - Furniture that are functional, long-lasting and that inspires for play and joy. It was clear that her design was good solid craftsmanship where one sensed the childish soul and love that was put into it. I was inspired by our meeting, and it ended up with a few additional questions and answers which you can read here in the article.
- What is your design background?
My background is design, art history and documentary film. I studied at Goldsmith’s College in London and worked on a number of exciting projects before founding IO Kids Design at the end of 2012 to produce my own furniture.
- Why do you make furniture for children instead of furniture in general?
I have always been intrigued by products for children as the needs of small people can often be very different to those of adults. My own range is partly inspired by this challenge as much as a personal desire to create interesting and functional pieces for my own children.
- Is there a greater or lesser challenge with designing for children?
Designing for children has always represented a different kind of challenge. With children’s products the challenge is a lot to do with how they can stand the test of time in order to get the maximum usage and not just for a short period, whilst at the same time creating eye-catching pieces that are functional, have friendly appeal and are easy to use.
The other key element or challenge for our own pieces is the aim to create furniture that would appeal not only to children but adults as well and that would bring family members together - enabling them to interact more - so for example with IO Bunk Pod the parents can also join their children in comfort to read bed time stories and also enjoy the furniture. Or they may help to paint or draw using the IO Doddle Box or help them with their homework using one of the new IO Desks. All of our furniture has been designed with the aim to provide a scope for all the members of the family to spend more time together, whilst at the same time being functional, easy to use and above all fun.
- Can you tell a little about the work process at Io Kids Design?
It all either starts with just an idea or as a response to a particular problem (like my daughter wanting a bunk bed!) Often ideas also come about by identifying a gap for certain products on the market that would be interesting for us to explore further. We tend to do a lot of research at the beginning to understand better how particular design can be used and how it can fit into children’s and parents lives. After sketching and model making we quickly move to prototyping which is as exciting as the early stages of research because it is often full of surprises with design evolving further, sometimes to suit a particular production technique. Each stage is as exciting as the one before and off course seeing the finished products and how children react and interact with it is the best part of the whole process.
- How much does the material in the work and in the final result mean to you?
The material choice is very important. If there is a particular material or process that is driving the project we will be focusing on that early on. Our current collection is made out of plywood and the next couple of pieces that we are working on will also be plywood based. I personally remember with great fondness having plywood furniture as a child and for so many different reasons we want to explore this great material further. We love working with it because of its warmth and resilience and also because it is such a versatile material that is easy to use in different ways such as bending and flexing. Those processes actually enhance the very essence of this material, bringing out its beauty, grain and texture.
- What's on the drawing board right now - what will be the next we see from Io Kids Design?
We are doing material development research looking into what is possible to do with certain materials, what is the limit, how do they behave and how certain materials can be applied to the new designs that we are currently working on. We have also started a few exciting collaborations with Scandinavian based designers so the rest of the year and beyond should be very exciting for our brand!
IO Kids Design is a British design studio that creates, versatile, multifunctional and above all fun furniture that grows with children. Mina Panic and IO Kids Design is currently based in London and Stockholm.
If you want to see more photos, and learn more about IO Kids Design, you will find their website here - www.iokidsdesign.co.uk.