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We present: manufacturer Jörg de Breuyn and designer Jannis Ellenberger

Second part of our blog series “Successful market launch thanks to the “Kids Design Award”

Jannis Ellenberger and Jörg de Breuyn

At Kind + Jugend 2014, Jannis Ellenberger was awarded with the Kids Design Award for his modular furniture system, developed for children and adults. In this edition of our series, you will get to know the designer and his concept as well the children’s furniture manufacturer Jörg de Breuyn who produces and markets the system.

What does a furniture designer do when, on the one hand, he has a lot of assignments, but on the other hand also small kids who demand his attention? This double challenge inspired Bremen-based Jannis Ellenberger to contemplate the way kids and parents live together. “Kids always want to be in the middle of things. They learn through observation and imitation – that’s why they love to be around their parents,” says the product and furniture designer. “The strict separation of living room and children’s room is therefore completely outdated – especially since the trend goes toward open spaces which integrate living and working anyway.”

Jannis Ellenberger: “Grown-up furniture” for kids and parents

When furniture for kids should find its fixed place in the living room, its design poses new challenges. Jannis Ellenberger, himself a father of two kids, thus developed a flexible, modular system consisting of seating and storage furniture that does justice to the need of both children and parents. Consequently, his concept was honoured with the Kids Design Award at Kind + Jugend 2014.

“It’s my aspiration to come up with furniture which has a clear, minimalist design language and – as a contrast to the daily hustle and bustle – provides a feeling of comfort and security. And apart from the fact that the parents, that is the buyers have to like it, I think it’s impertinent to offer kids only childish, infantile furniture,” emphasizes the designer who creates furniture, lamps and accessories for such renowned companies as CB2, Sudbrock or Prandina.

As a consequence, his modular concept is modern, in a purist design with light oak feet. Colourful cupboard doors and seat upholstery as well as open boxes to store toys give it a playful touch. But Ellenberger deliberately forgoes loud and gaudy colours because “it makes it hard for kids to calm down and be at ease.” Instead, the trained cabinetmaker, who studied at the “Akademie für Gestaltung” (Design Academy) in Munster/Germany, relies on quality, functionality and solidity. And in this, he’s not willing to compromise: “After all, kids treat furniture in a different way than adults do. For them, a chair is not a status symbol, but a chair – or maybe the entrance to a cave, a spaceship or a mountain they can climb on.”

Jörg de Breuyn: from sculptor to international manufacturer of children’s furniture

In his design concepts, Ellenberger always strives to combine functionality and aesthetics in the best possible way. This approach also convinced Jörg de Breuyn: “His furniture hits the spot – it’s exactly what design-conscious parents are looking for. There’s definitely a market for it.” That’s why the furniture manufacturer has become the product sponsor for Ellenberger’s concept and is now readying it for the market.

Just like Jannis Ellenberger, Jörg de Breuyn only started working in the field of children’s furniture design when he himself became a father: “We had a kid but no money. And we didn’t like the furniture we could have afforded.” So in 1986, he built his first piece of children’s furniture in his studio in a Cologne backyard – an “adventure bed” for sleeping, climbing and roughhousing that met with so much approval that he decided to get into furniture manufacturing. “Thanks to my studies as a sculptor, I was familiar with the craftsmanship techniques, and I have learned to give weird ideas a go even if everybody tells me not to.”

Step by step and piece by piece, de Breuyn and his growing team extended their assortment. In order to satisfy the need for his durable, flexible and pollutant-free solid wood furniture, he and his business partner built a production site in the Czech Republic at the end of the 1990s. Today, de Breuyn designs and manufactures three lines of children’s furniture which he sells in his own shops in Cologne and Hamburg as well as via 400 specialist retailers all around the world.

Up until today, the father of now three grown-up kids only realized his own designs, with very few exceptions. But as of lately, working towards developing new products for the international market, he has intensified his cooperation with young designers: “They are in step with the market, and as young parents, they know what’s needed. The modular system by Jannis Ellenberger is a perfect match,” he points out.

Furniture for kids and adults with a homogenous look – is this the current mega trend in the children’s furniture market? Which solutions do customers expect – and which are the developments manufacturers, retailers and designers have to prepare for? All of this and more will be discussed between Jannis Ellenberger, Jörg de Breuyn and other experts in the area of children’s furniture in the next edition of our blog. But of course we’re also interested in your opinion: Which trends do you see? What characterizes good children’s furniture design in your opinion? Let us know!

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