There can be little doubt about it – we live in design-conscious times. Now, more than ever, we demand a potent fusion of style and function from the products we buy, and that has permeated right down to the nursery. Whereas a generation or two ago, pushchairs, cots, carriers and the like were predominantly seen as practical purchases; that is clearly no longer the case. As with our technology, furniture and cars, parents are insisting that all things related to their child be equally as sleek and sophisticated. So what of our children?
Will being surrounded by and ensconced in beautifully made products help them to acquire an early appreciation of good design? Well, it won’t do your child any harm, but that’s not to say she’ll bypass the notoriously bad-taste toddler stage when the loud and garish prove irresistible.
There is, however, lots you can do to get her through to the other, more aesthetically pleasing, side as quickly as possible. First and foremost, start young. Your child’s appreciation of design will not develop overnight, but by encouraging her to think about how things are made and by showing your own love of quality products, you’ll be laying excellent foundations for the future. Talk about and explore products around the home.
Identify why certain materials are chosen and what makes for good design. Conversely, show your child things you deem to be less well designed and explain why.
When she is old enough, take your child to design-related exhibitions. The Design Museum in London is excellent for contemporary work and on Sundays has Design And Make workshops for children aged over five. The V&A and Science Museum have much to offer young design aficionados, too.
“Good design should fire a child’s imagination,” says renowned design guru Tom Dixon. “It’s all about dreaming big dreams.”