How I Designed the Perfect Kids Lounge Chair
As I began to meddle with furniture making and children’s furniture design, I quickly noticed that many of the options available for children were toned down and soft. I wanted our furniture to help teach children to be aware of their spaces and to take ownership of their belongings. Our materials are simple and straight forward — most can be easily cleaned by a toddler with a damp rag, and they are light enough to carry, giving little ones a sense of ownership and autonomy.
I did a lot of research on mid-century modern, Scandinavian and Japanese design and found elements that I liked and wanted to include in my own pieces. I like the play between wood and leather and how the two interact from a structural point of view.
One of the very first chairs I built was an adult lounger, from oak and leather. I was trying to make it without the use of screws after reading a book on the Art of Japanese Wood Joinery. It was a lot of mortise and tendon. I learned how to stitch leather and started to design and create at the same time. My first prototype was a side project years ago, and resulted in a piece that I was happy with from one angle, but really disliked from the rear.
Years later when I decided to take the leap and design and build children’s furniture full time, I looked back on my designs and notes from the past decade and teased out what worked into new sketches. I used my daughter Frances as a model and got her basic measurements (different leg and torso measurements, reach and angles), then I created a small model and played with the different angles and length — more for aesthetics at this point. Once happy with the aesthetic, I began to dive into how I would build our children’s chairs and leather loungers from a production and safety point of view.
I first sketched the design just to get an overall sense of the shape. It was important to be able to draw the piece with one line that gave the overall feel of the design. I start with a very detailed design and then little by little, remove all the detail, until it’s just an overall outline. I think about it like “if I had to make a model of this chair, only using a paperclip, what impression of the chair would I want to give”. These sketches are first done by hand (pen and notepad), and then transferred over to Procreate on an iPad, and then finally over to AutoCAD to give the production team exact dimensions to determine yield and cost.
Prototype & Fitting