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Successful market launch thanks to the Kids Design Award – Episode 4: Round table: Which children’s furniture does the market need?

Kind + Jugend supports innovative children’s furniture concepts and brings designers and manufacturers together. But how much importance is attached to design in the kids’ room anyway? Where is the trend headed? What does the market expect? These questions are discussed by Bremen-based designer Jannis Ellenberger whose modular concept was awarded with the Kids Design Award 2014, the children’s furniture manufacturer Jörg de Breuyn from Cologne, and Thomas Postert, project manager Kind + Jugend at Koelnmesse.

Kind + Jugend 2014

Kind + Jugend 2014

With his award-winning concept, Jannis Ellenberger presented furniture that is designed for kids and adults alike. Is this the current trend in children’s furniture?

Jannis Ellenberger: The basis of my furniture system is the observation that smaller children prefer to be close to their parents. That’s not a trend, but a very basic need. And this is how my approach of combining those two living spaces came into being.

Jörg de Breuyn: For me, integrated furniture systems for children and adults are not necessarily a trend in itself, but a new variation of the trend towards holistic, integrated living – it’s more of a social trend, really. Parents and kids are spending less time together these days, and the quality time they’re having is becoming ever more precious … hence the tendency to incorporate children’s furniture in the living area.

Thomas Postert: Due to open floor plans, the living spaces of children and their parents are increasingly blending into one another; sitting room and children’s room are ever coalescing. That’s why the design should fit the parents‘ taste. For this, manufacturers are now offering a broad choice of options.

Which additional trends are you currently seeing?

Thomas Postert

Thomas Postert

Thomas Postert: Another important trend is the digitalisation of daily family life. This applies for nearly all product segments for kids. Not only with regard to toys, but also to home networking, there are a lot of things happening right now: baby phones are operated via smartphone apps, or mattresses are outfitted with digital technology to supervise sleeping and breathing.

 

 

Which relevance does children’s furniture design have today?

Jannis Ellenberger: Design is entering the sphere of children’s rooms with a vengeance. But it is often misunderstood: We don’t need Micky Mouse furniture nor the Bauhaus look for our kids. These are just projections by us, the adults. What families really need are functional and aesthetically pleasing solutions that help them to manage the daily chaos – thus, multifunctional furniture that is able to grow with the kids and to provide lots of storage space.

Jörg de Breuyn: The visual aspect is important, but children’s furniture – first and foremost – needs to cater to the needs of the kids. It has to be ergonomic and safe, but also accommodate the kids’ love for playing. This, too, is a key element of good design!

Where do you see the differences in the German market for children’s furniture and the one for regular furniture?

Jannis Ellenberger: There’s a lower willingness to spend money for children’s furniture than for furniture to be found in the rest of the house. The market for design-oriented children’s furniture is therefore a niche market.

Jörg de Breuyn

Jörg de Breuyn

Jörg de Breuyn: Right now, about 680.000 children are born in Germany per year. This number shows how small the market really is. In addition, many manufacturers and retailers think that you can only make money with children’s furniture – if at all – in the inexpensive self-service sector. Parents who are looking for something different are often not able to find anything.

 

What is the situation like in other countries?

Jörg de Breuyn: In Germany, people have traditionally spent less for children. In the Mediterranean countries, where life pretty much focusses around kids and family, the situation is different. Baby furniture in Germany, for example, is almost exclusively available in the low-priced sector. In France, on the other hand, you will find lots of small baby boutiques that sell extremely high-quality furniture. The same is true for China: The growing middle class is willing to spend a lot of money on the few kids they have.

Which are the developments and future trends that manufacturers, retailers and designers have to prepare for?

Jörg de Breuyn: In my opinion, parents will state their needs much more clearly – that’s already the case in forums and social networks. Manufacturers and retailers who would like to sell more children’s furniture will thus have to listen very closely. In addition, issues such as sustainability and the absence of pollutants will continue to play an important role.

Jannis Ellenberger

Jannis Ellenberger

Jannis Ellenberger: Kids will increasingly become the centre of attention – think of the ‘helicopter parents’. With this, the interest in children’s furniture will rise; so will the requirements as far as quality is concerned. This can already be seen today: children’s furniture is the most strongly growing segment in the furniture industry.

 

 

Compared to regular furniture for adults, the design of children’s furniture just plays a minor role on all the big platforms. How would you rate the significance of Kind + Jugend and the Kids Design Award against this background?

Thomas Postert: Our approach at Kind + Jugend is to support innovation and product development in the children’s furniture and outfitting sector, and we are well-known in the industry for this strategy. Luckily, creativity in the industry abounds – for us, it’s now a matter of driving marketability and sales. This is why our support activities – the Kids Design Award, the Designpark, the Young Innovative Enterprises sector, the Innovation Award as well as the Consumer Award – cover the complete product development chain in this segment.

Solutions for current issues that manufacturers and retailers are facing can also be found in our Trendforum. Here, experts from the retail, research and development and design sector give insightful presentations, for example on international market development and today’s trends.

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