Apr 17, 2014

Get crafty this easter

Get crafty this Easter weekend with some of these ideas from Mr Printables.

Above make a zoom zoom car for Mr and Mrs Egg to drive.

Or stack your egg creations into a cool sculpture to display or give away.

Have an Easter party with these funky egg characters - all dressed to impress!

Easter need not only be about sweet treats (and then sore tummies!) - but creating fun and memorable experiences that tickle the imagination.

Go to Mr Printables to download the free printable template files.

Apr 16, 2014

A home in Toronto that embraces family life

Termed the "family clubhouse", architect John Tong transformed an old industrial Toronto dairy building into a colourful playground for his three children - embracing the sometimes frantic life that entails having three young children.

The house's open-plan layout encourages the entire family to hang out together, even while partaking in different activities. While thought-out designed details are customized to the family's life.

For example above, the twins brush their teeth using the custom-built wooden step.

The backyard is treated as another room. As shown above, the table is used for family gatherings / social events, while the elevated porch is used by the kids as a stage for impromptu performances.

An old loft structure above will one day become a treehouse for the children, says John.

A carpet rug provides the ideal space for both reading and playing with trains.

To display the children’s artwork (as Maelle paints above), John designed a four-foot-high lightbox for above the staircase. The front panel is non-glare acrylic held in place with magnetic strips while low-voltage LED strips provide the backlighting. “We change the art at least every holiday and birthday,” says John.

Right, a shelf system was built for the basement, which was then adapted to accommodate the children's toys - the space becoming a playroom/workshop.

I love John's attitude of designing from the "ground up" - a method that evolves organically - that is ever-changing as the family's needs change. It is truly an attitude that embraces all of family life, and doesn't take itself too seriously.

Via Dwell.

Poppin kids pieces at Peppin

Love these print poppin quality-crafted kids pieces from Peppin Boutique at Bloc.

My favourite - the Ascot Scarf Bib. Too cute!

Via Bloc.

Apr 10, 2014

Roof = Slide

John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere have designed a "2 in 1" community library AND playground, the roof doubling as a slide.

The Pinch, Library and Community Centre was built as part of a government reconstruction following the 2012 Yunnan earthquakes.

Situated in the mountain village of Shuanghe in south-west China, the library and surrounding plaza offers a meeting place for local residents, as well as a space where children can play and read.

"Villages in China often prioritise building houses over community spaces and community programs, even though it is an important aspect of village life," Lin told Dezeen. The new structure providing a positive and central hub for ALL the community's residents.

Simple school benches offer flexible seating, while polycarbonate plastic doors and windows front the building; the trusses extending downward to support a floating bookshelf.

It is nice to see the focus on creating meaningful community spaces for all ages that invite interaction and play being used as a catalyst for a city's difficult reconstruction process (a similar concept to Van Eyck's post-war Dutch playgrounds).

Via Domus and Dezeen.

Apr 3, 2014

Patterns and surface design "has no limits"

It is true what Ashley Le Quere says of why she likes 'surface design': "surface design for me is something that has no limits - it can be anything from print design for textiles, to laminate flooring to skate boards. It is forever growing and expanding."

Surface Design may include wallpaper (as shown above and which can be coloured in here), stickers (previously blogged here), magnets (like Kindergarten Ajda) and textiles (including, rugs, throws, cushions).

I love Ashley's varied and fun style - ranging from the graphic, painted and illustrated - which can be applied to a variety of applications.

A great way to brighten up any space and make it more light and playful.

Via The Design Files.

How many eggs can you find?

I used to love creating treasure (and Easter egg!) hunts for my sister and friends with treats bought from the dairy when I was young - ranging from the adventure challenge type (like hopping on one leg 10 times) to solving riddles from clues.

Therefore I love this idea from chocolate company Whittaker's who have created a Big Egg Hunt this Easter, where you and your family can join the challenge in finding the 100 eggs decorated by NZ artists and designers hidden around Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

And it's all for a good cause - the event hoping to raise funds for the Starship (Children's Hospital) Foundation.

See the Auckland "egg" map below (and here);

You can even have the chance to purchase your very own egg - with Starship auctioning off all 100 after the event.

Good on Whittaker's for creating a fun and creative-inspiring event this Easter.

Via CleverBastards.

Update - there's a New York one too!

Jewellery store Fabergé have organised this big egg hunt for the people of New York City - who with the help of a designed app have the chance to locate 250 "designer" eggs located throughout the city.

Above is Benjamin Shine's ‘all-ways new york’ egg pays homage to the unique streets and locations that underpin the diversity of the city.

From left is Terry Richardson's egg (#188), the Ralph Lauren egg (#203) and Jan Huling's (egg#165).

Mar 28, 2014

Kids Room Décor

I was scanning through the boo and the boy and thought I'd share with you a few of my favourite pics showing ideas for kids rooms (one day I might actually undertake such a project!)

I love the understated tones, the picture books on the wall, the built-in bunk-beds and the swing...

And more from My Scandinavian Home....

Feature wallpaper walls, wall decals (love the figure standing upside down next to the cot), bold geomtric textiles (cushions and duvet covers), feature chairs with cushions for bedtime stories, playhouse and soft fluffy rugs for sitting on the floor....

Love the playhouse shaped wall storage unit and inhabitable shelf (top-right)!

A blackboard wall, fun soft toys and right, the beautifully designed Stokke Sleepi Cot / Bed that grows as your child grows (very handy!)

Via the boo and the boy and my scandinavian home.

Mar 27, 2014

Humanitarian (and 'paper') architect receives prestigious Pritzker Prize

A few years back I attended a lecture given by Shigeru Ban who spoke about a few of his projects at Victoria University in Wellington. I was surprised at his humility and his light-hearted sense of humour. To say the least it was a memorable, inspirational and enjoyable lecture.

Ban's work is sincere and simply beautiful, and serves a varied clientele.  As Ban responds in an interview with Metropolis, he was "tired of working for [privileged people with money and power]" and believes "architects can use [their] experience and knowledge more for society". 

This belief is reflected in Ban's comprehensive disaster-relief work for affected countries all over the world. Below is a selection of his projects, which show his (famous) use of a paper structure:

1 - Christchurch Cardboard Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand following the 2011 earthquake. Ban designed this pro bono (for free), the design of which features 86 cardboard tubes and a polycarbon roof supported by eight shipping containers. 2 - Hannover Expo Japan Pavilion, a grid shell structure, whose recycled paper tubes could be dismantled and again recycled. 3 - Paper Emergency Shelter for UNHCR during the humanitarian crisis of war-torn Rwanda in 1994. Before Ban designed his paper solution, refugees were provided with aluminium poles. Bus as aluminium fetched good prices on local markets they preferred to sell them. 4 - Paper Temporary Studio on top of the Pompidou. After winning the competition to design the Pompidou Metz, Ban set up office (with a paper structure - of course) on top of the Pompidou do that he could oversee every detail relating to his design. As Ban jokes in his Ted Talk: "Free rent for six years!" 5 - Privacy Screens for large open-spaced public facilities following the Japan earthquake. 6-9 A Paper Tube School for China's Sichuan province following the quake in May 2009.

It is a well-deserved win for Ban - as the Pritzker Jury (2014) says:

“Shigeru Ban is a tireless architect whose work exudes optimism. Where others may see insurmountable challenges, Ban sees a call to action. Where others might take a tested path, he sees the opportunity to innovate. He is a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generation, but also an inspiration.”

Mar 25, 2014

Make it Modular!

Continuing the theme of modular furniture (see Prisma post here), designers are continuing to use the idea of  "employing or involving a module or modules as the basis of design or construction" (Google definition).

MAXintheBOX modular table-chair combination by Perludi. Able to be used as a classic table-chair combination, as stools for adults, as a grocery store or a shelf for books.

These designers are working on the premise for designing for many possible applications or configurations - which are as endless as children's imaginations.

Froebel's 'Gifts'

Friedrich Froebel the pioneer of Kindergarten saw the opportunity apparent in modular objects which would reflect his belief in the relationship between physical activity and learning in young children.

Left are Froebel's 'third, fourth, fifth and sixth gifts' assembled into forms of each of the three realms. Right is Froebel's 'seventh gift' consisting of triangular and quadrangular tablets of coloured paper.

A system of play objects called the 'gifts and occupations', such as balls, blocks, sticks, paper and clay were introduced to the children by Froebel in a sequence of creative exercises intended to inspire learning and to instill in children an understanding of the "sacred language of geometry" which he believed as the basis for life.

The blocks:

Image author's own.

Coloured paper patterns:

Images author's own.

These abstract-design activities were intended to cultivate in children the ability to observe, reason, express and create.

Below are a number of current furniture and products that today are using the modular methodology - allowing flexibility, for one to arrange as desired and inviting the user to interact in it's arrangement and/or construction.


The Citybook Storage System (above) designed by Mr Less and Mrs More is a modular shelving shelving system comprised of a 'house-like' angled module, lending itself to distinctly different compositional possibilities - different to your usual shelving unit.

Fabricated in sheet iron, they're joined by magnets, making them easy to assemble and disassemble.


Storage need not be purely functional, but may be fun, sculptural and decorative - brightening up a space and bringing a sense of play.

Giant LEGO Bricks (shown left) may be stacked (like the originals) AND as storage for children to stash their goods in. Likewise with these stacked Pantone Storage Boxes, which are designed by Selab for Seletti.

Chair or Table = Pew

Side table, bedside table, stool or desk, the YooBoo PEW designed by Native Creative may be easily slotted together and comes in a variety of colours and patterns.

Folding table

While not strictly speaking "modular", this folding table may be altered (or folded) into a number of configurations to suit the user's mood. The Unfold Table designed by Morgan and Marley breaks the standard notion of a table - and shows that it can be so much more - and inspire fun!


Carrying on from Froebel's blocks, a number of new beutifully crafted wooden blocks are again emerging for children's play. Like shown here (Tegu - Endeavour set) these toys are simple and will last for generations - thus a worthy investment.

Wall Decals

Wall stickers offer the advantage of livening up a space, while unlike a new paint job may be easily removed. These 'Geometric' Stickers from Love Mae also offer another advantage in that they may be arranged in endless ways....


Made from 100% natural wool, these ZIP rugs designed by Alberto Sánchez are made of interlocking pieces that create amusing coloured hexagons, superimposed with triangular mathematical shapes - allowing maximum amounts of customisation.


These colourful Puzzle Cushions (or poufs) from Buzzi are flexible, versatile and fun-ky.

Whether for children or adults, these modular examples show how any product may be designed to not only be functional, but inspire the imagination and inject a bit of fun (and learning) into our spaces.

Mar 18, 2014

Sensation Paths to Sensation Architecture

Playscapes have posted these "sensation paths" or "barefoot parks" that are coming out of Europe, where one's "unshod foot" may experience a variety of elements and textures.

A fantastic idea which may be applied to early childhood environments.

Below from Barfuss Park are a number of ideas for building your own sensation path, including balancing beams, stone plates, knotted ropes hung from trees, mulch/bark, tree stumps, board walks, loose materials (like stones or sand), wading through water, scented gardens, mud pools and spaces for reflection or rest (e.g. a hammock or bench seat).

Literally, these can be incorporated into the early childhood setting.

Less literally, the notion of designing for the senses is not a new idea. Margaret McMillan heralded fresh air, sunlight and scented gardens to improve the health of the child. Maria Montessori and John Dewey advocated the "do it yourself" attitude with tasks and activities for the child's learning. Whereas Rudolf Steiner used architectural form, textures, shadow and light to create space that inspired the child's imagination.

It is prudent however to remember and reflect on how architecture responds to the child's many and varied senses.

Boardwalks (Movement/Motor)

From left: The Flying Carpet project by Area Architecture, Black Locust Wooden bench in Canal Park, Washington, and Kindergarten Guntramsdorf, by GOYA.

Balance, acceleration and kinesthetic (awareness and perception of one's body) sense is important for a child's development. Thus architecture must allow children to "test" their physical capabilities and motor movements (run, skip, jump, slide etc) so that they may become confident individuals.

Floor to Wall Textures (Touch)

From left: Casal de la Joventut de Novelda by Crystalzoo, Nursery School by Rocamora Arquitectura and Sant Martí Primary and Infant School by SUMO Arquitectes + Yolanda Olmo.

Playful, textured and varied surfaces - inviting one to 'touch' may stretch across the floors and walls. Thus blurring the boundaries and infusing a sense of wonder or excitement into the architecture.

Natural Materials (Nature Experience)

From left: New Shoots Children's Centre by Collingridge and SmithHeidelberg kindergarten by Behnisch Architekten and The Children’s School by Maryanne Thompson Architects. 

Wood, grass, stones, rocks, sand, shrubs, water - all are natural elements offering a variety of sensorial experiences. From moving, rearranging, collecting and being able to feel texture and a sense of warmth or coldness.

Visual (Colour and Reflection)

From left: Mirror House by MLRP and Nursery School in Berriozar by Javier Larraz + Iñigo Beguiristain + Iñaki Bergera.

Reflective or colourfully painted features add to the child's visual experience, arousing movement and giving space a unique identity.

Activities (Co-ordination and Creativity)

From left: Kidtopia in Amsterdam by DUS ArchitectsWinnetka Public School Nursery by ArchitectureIsFun and Kita Dragon by Baukind.

Steps, slides, climbing elements and space for creative expression continues the kinesthetic sense of hand-eye co-ordination and sense of self awareness.

Rest (Peace and Quiet)

From left: Ying Yang Public Library by Evgeny Markachev + Julia KozlovaMelbourne Central Retreat by Clare Cousins Architecture, Architects School in Ljubljana by Svet Vmes and Skanderborggade Day Care Centre by Dorte Mandrup.

Important also to play, is to design for down-time - rest and contemplation. This can be through the use of seating, creating niches or "hidey-holes", through using calm colours and soft warm textures.

Via Playscapes.

Mar 17, 2014

Architects and builders create cool "cubby houses" for a good cause

Leading Australian architects and builders are again tackling the Under Cover Cubby House Challenge, an annual competition demonstrating sustainable building design to create fun and unique play "cubbies", while raising money for Kids Under Cover who support homeless and at-risk children.

2011 Entry - 'The Milk Bar' by Good Constructions & Atkinson Pontifex, with Maddison Architects uses funky colourful recycled milk crates.

This year's event, including an auction and raffle is held at the Cubby House Village at the Melbourne International Flower Show from Wednesday 26 March to Sunday 30 March 2014 in Australia.

2014 Concept Entries

'King of the Castle' (left) by Carr Architecture & De Carolis is a reference to the dreams of young kids to be King's of their own castle on the playground! Featuring a fireman's pole and porthole windows, the form with its fluted top reflects the castle's tower embattlements.

Right, 'Cloud Climb' by Studio You Me & Tandem with Fridcorp & Luxe Property is a slick and 'modern' miniature home featuring a kitchen with island bench, blackboard walls, internal stair case to the first floor loft, operable roof and a suspended hammock floor.

'Caravan Me Happy' by Little Green Room is inspired by childhood summer holidays. Using only sustainable products the curving caravan form appeals to the 'inner child' of all ages. 'The Hatch' (right) by Porter Davis Homes resembles a forest hut. Externally, angled walls, weathertex cladding, plywood and a rust-iron finish to the entrance is combined with a play bench, comfy corner seating and a colourful ball pit internally make for a snuggly hideaway.

Left is 'The Grubby' by Cedar Woods Properties and dKO Architecture with Madison Projects, which is based on children's building blocks. The design encourages children to immerse themselves in a world that they will build themselves; with an assortment of features including an interactive pegboard wall, climbing net, dress-ups and chalkboards.

'Switch' by Sabi Designs with Harris HMC (right) is designed to allow children to "switch on" their imaginations. The cubbie's 'tools' to accommodate this include a garden, wall art and LEGO. The construction utilises sustainable materials and techniques, solar energy and pump based rainwater.

Previous Years Entries

The 2011 winner designed by Nixon Tulloch Fortey Architecture with builder BD Projects is the 'Open House'....(via)

"We saw the cubby a little like an empty cardboard box that can be turned into anything," says architect Brett Nixon. "Children have unclouded imaginations that create play and scenarios out of the most simple things." 

The house opens towards the ground and sky, and then closes up into a single form - a recognizable, ordinary form 'the crayon house you sketched on paper that once seemed so very big.'

From the 212 challenge, 'Cubby Life' designed by Six Degrees Architects and built by Ducon "is a sanctuary that kids can retreat to a place of their own, where the screen-mediated world is unplugged and where they can embrace their dreams and their friendships. Its innovative, sustainable design encourages kids to commune with nature, to interact with the space and to let their imaginations run free” says the team. The design featuring botanical walls, a planter fed by rainwater run-off, recycled timbers, plywood, pigeon holes and under-seat storage and a day-bed offering a soft surface on which to play, converse or nap.

Also from 2012 is 'The Bird's Nest', designed by Australian politician Ted Baillieu (previously an architect) and Australand. A cosy wee hideaway for "nesting" in.

Above are a selection of the 2013 entries - including ‘Mini Giant’ by Maddison Architects with Stonehaven Homes; ‘Your Name Here’ by Gunn Dyring Architects with David McDonald Builders; ‘The Zimmer’ by Porter Davis; and ‘Enchanted Cubby House’ by Positive Footprints.

It is great to see architects and builders getting together to create fun and playful spaces not only for the children but for the "inner child" in all. Not only is it a great cause, but advocates a way of designing for children that inspires the imagination.


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