TEN QUESTIONS, TEN ANSWERS: Alexander Taylor

Alex, daughter Clara and son WilfBy Christine Samuelian

At 33 Alexander Taylor is one of the youngest product designers to have made it big in the international design world with iconic shapes like the powder-coated steel Antlers coathanger, the solid oak and rubber Kids Rock rocking chair, and the Fold lamp, a version of which is manufactured by Established & Sons. Alex lives in the seaside town of Deal, Kent, with his wife and two kids, Wilf, 4, and Clara, 18 months.

LittleBig: What inspired your now famous Kids Rock rocking chair [pictured bottom]?

AT: I saw an old children’s rocking chair at a friend’s house. At the time we didn’t have kids but I was instantly struck with this image of children kicking back in front of the fire, relaxing after a tough day – I just thought it was a funny concept. It also gave me an opportunity to design a very pure piece without having to worry too much about ergonomic and comfort complaints. I wanted to design something that would survive long after the children have grown up and left home. It was never my intention to do a version for the grown-ups – I like the idea of the children having their own individuality and furniture.

Antler hooksLB: Any other kid-related products?

AT: The Antlers coat hook [£59, pictured right]. It’s a highly graphic and functional piece that lends itself perfectly to a child’s bedroom wall. [And we also love Alex's flat Fold lamp with coloured flex, pictured below, great for older kids' bedside tables].

LB: Any more child-related ideas in the pipeline?

AT: I’ve had a few thoughts that may develop into both playful objects and serious children’s furniture. I’d love to design a good high chair – there are already a couple of good ones on the market but I think it would be a challenge. It’s such a fundamental part of the kitchen and you have to live with it and use it three or more times every day. I’d also like to design a bed that helps children sleep all night and at least until 7.30am during the week and 11am at the weekends – I’d make a fortune! Read the rest of this article

Posted 5 September 2009 in Designer Profiles

TEN QUESTIONS, TEN ANSWERS: Isak

Sandra and TheoTHE SCANDINAVIAN GRAPHIC DESIGNER and illustrator, Sandra Isaksson, has been designing lifestyle products for her label Isak since 2006. She lives with her partner and sons Theo, 5 (pictured left reading with Sandra) and Eden, 8 months – his new bedroom is pictured bottom – in the beautiful, historic English town of Arundel. Her Isak products focus largely on eating and drinking, as well as a growing range of illustrated posters, textiles and wallpaper (her penguin design is pictured below) for children…

LittleBig: What do you want your kids’ products to say?
Sandra Isaksson: I want them to be user-friendly and kind, the kind of things you want to look after and save for your own children when you grow up.

LB: How has having children made you more design-aware?
SI: Without them I would never have started to design for children. Yes, through their needs I have become more design-aware. Or its made me understand what was lacking out there.

Wooden toys for EdenLB: What influences have you tapped into in your designs for children?
SI: My childhood! I was brought up by a family of trolls in the heart of a Swedish forest. Summers were spent sculpting clouds and painting rainbows. In the winters I carved with wind and whittled skybears from snowflakes. I want my children to be as blueberry kissed and filled with magic as I was.

LB: Why your (initial) focus on tableware?
SI: Because I like to eat! And cook! And all my childhood memories are around food and the pleasures of sitting down with family, talking and eating. We had great fun going fishing with granddad, berry and mushroom picking with grandma, coming home and cooking it and sitting down and eating it. We did
proper things, ran around naked in the woods and swam in lakes. My grandparents grew their own veg, went hunting in the woods for meat. And Swedes love eating in the garden!  Read the rest of this article

Posted 3 June 2009 in Designer Profiles

TEN QUESTIONS, TEN ANSWERS: Absolute Zero Degrees on Mini Moderns

azd2Together Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson of Absolute Zero Degrees, a graphic design outfit based in south London, produce Mini Moderns, a homesware label for kids with more than a little adult appeal too.

They have ridden the wave of the new market in children’s interior design, and have become, within 4 years of their launch, one of the world’s most inspiring design companies for children.

Mark, 41, (shown right in the picture on the left) from West Yorkshire, holds a degree in English literature and loves New York, Negronis and Radiohead. He dislikes red sports cars. Keith, 42, from North Yorkshire, has a degree in graphics, used to work with Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway at Red or Dead, and loves Autumn, gigs, The Festival of Britain, and the Amalfi Coast (ED: but then who doesn’t?). He hates prejudice, heights and laziness. Here they talk design, eco issues, and being online uncles to their growing legion of fans….

LittleBig: Most people turn to design for children when they have kids themselves, and become frustrated or disappointed at what is on the market. You don’t have that justification so what’s your reasoning for Mini Moderns?

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Posted 25 October 2008 in Decor,Designer Profiles

TEN QUESTIONS, TEN ANSWERS: bookhou

petit-chaise1BOOKHOU’S natural, graphic style of children’s products is as big on ethical thinking as it is on restrained Scandi-Nippon Modern looks. With a constantly changing online store featuring hand-made chairs, a rather lovely maple ply mobile in the shape of abstract birds, modern patchwork bed throws and graphic animal-print cushions (as well as adult prints and furniture), Bookhou’s Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth – graduates in art and architecture and parents to Lliam, 2 – offer a charming and less commercialized take on stylish goods for children.

Plus their work is affordable – their wooden ply and recycled furniture chair – a kind of 21st-century eco-chic take on the Eames – is just 95 Canadian dollars, approximately £47, the animal cushion toys just C$45 (approx £22) and even better, they’re happy to ship their furniture to Europe and beyond… We spoke to Arounna for more on Bookhou’s work and home style. Read the rest of this article

Posted 6 July 2008 in Designer Profiles,Furniture

POP ICON: Clifford Richards

noahs-ark-poster1NO, NOT THE WIMBLEDON SINGING SIXTIES POP ICON. Clifford Richards – the famed graphic/paper products designer, who created cutting-edge London store Paperchase’s key products back in the day – is a whole different pop icon altogether. And now, at age 73 – and a grandfather many times over – his profile is on the rise again.

 Cliff’s new moment in the spotlight comes courtesy of the V&A museum, who bought much of his paper work from the 1960s and 70s for its permanent collections a couple of years ago. It has since commissioned him to produce exhibition graphics for its Sixties Fashion show, as well as a number of graphics for the recently reopened V&A’s Museum of Childhood in 2007. (Their shop currently sells several of his exclusive print products.) 

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Posted 2 September 2008 in Art + Graphic Design,Designer Profiles

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