Yue Xin / School of Design and Crafts University of Gothenburg
Fun, well resolved, clever and simple; look out IKEA!
Elefanti is a childrens furniture that has double functions; a round play mat measures 120cm in diameter made of felt and it can also be folded into an elephant-shaped basket. It is designed to fit in an environment where there are both adults and children, such as living room and it fulfills both parties’ values. The iconic elephant has lots of stories to tell to children while it is also fulfill adults aesthetic views.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Furniture for children is often of noisy colours and shapes and therefore only belong to childrens room or other childrens’ territory. While typically in the home environment, the living room is the ‘nice’ room that often reflects the owners personalities and therefore parents usually will have to hide away childrens’ things to keep the room’s furniture consistent in style. This limits childrens play activity in the living room.
On the other hand, children playing in living room enables more interaction with adults as well as bringing closer relationship in the family, these are beneficial to the childs development. The project was aiming to promote the chance of interaction through creating a piece of furniture that is attractive to both children and adults.
The challenge was to meet the values from both parties, in terms of functionality as well as aesthetic perspective. At the same time it should fit into home living room and the safety concern for children to play. Moreover, I added consideration into how to make the furniture more durable sociologically by inviting adults to use it because childrens furniture usually will be too small for the growing child and soon be discarded.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
To design a furniture that is used by both adults and children first emphasized on functionality, through both adults and childrens perspective. By looking into the scenarios going on in everyday life and special occasions, I have defined the functions when child/children playing in the living room. But yet I looked at it in an open-ended way, wanted to give the use more flexibility. Because especially when designing for children, they will create their own way of using products.
Additional criteria is that I wanted to strengthen the emotional relationship between people and the object by creating a ”toytool”, that is the object not only satisfy the requirements for functional tools, but also some pleasant association with toys. This will attract children, and also remind parents of nostalgic childhood, encouraging adults to play with children.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
First I examined the current use of living room furniture for the big and small in households and conducted a research on peoples attitude towards letting children playing in the living room, the pros and cons. Why they wanted or didnot want to have their children playing there? What does a child want? What does a parent want? How to let their different values meet in the middle? From the questions I generated ideas.
I started materials exploration only after deciding the folding mat concept, I took safety and functionality into main consideration, I also wanted to choose a material that has low environment impact and at the same time with good performance. I wanted children to get a hint of sustainability from the products they use since small. Can I use any natural materials? Without combining with other materials, will a single material achieve the performance I want?
Testing was an important phase through out the project. As an adult myself, I can only confidently tell the perspective from adults, which is half of the projects intended context, so I tried my idea with children as well as the exploration and size, use child’s perspective to complete the project.
The project was initiated for the audience’s interests, the children and adults who would use it. As I developed the concept into more tangible product, I took more consideration into the interests of manufacturing, discussing the possible way of stitches with school technicians as well as how to take care of the leftover material to lower the production cost and make it accessible in price.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Elefanti fulfills both adults and childrens values and could be used by both groups which subtly enhances interaction between children and adults to bring in a closer relationship as well as promoting children playing in a mixed environment like living room, for the best interest of the child.
Like origami, the round play carpet could be folded into a basket or other shapes children will discover, allowing them to explore space between 2D and 3D freely. It offers more open-ended play and the elephant shape stimulates storytelling and imagination which helps childrens intellectual development.
It is cut from one piece of industrial needle felt from Nordifa, who has a responsible environmental policy. Additionally, when children grow up, Elefanti could be used as a regular round carpet or a fully functional basket for storage, making it never grown out of and therefore sociologically sustainable.