Post by Deonne Rowland from Odd sock, Odd Shoe
As an interior designer focused exclusively on children’s interiors, one of the ways I try to add charm to rooms is to mix old with new and to introduce design classics into modern schemes wherever possible. Children’s midcentury furniture works especially well, with its thoughtful design and playful shapes, and is a perfect place to start when considering bringing classics into your scheme.
Many of the iconic midcentury furniture designers from the 1940s-60s created products for children – whether as standalone items for their own or friends’ children or as tiny versions of the full-scale originals. Luckily, many of those products are also still available today. Those still produced under license are the easiest to source; others, long since out of production, will require a bit of a treasure hunt to find, but are vastly rewarding when you do!
Here are a few of my favourite pieces …
The Mullca 300: the classic French school chair
Created by Jacques Hitier in 1949, this is the quintessential French school chair – easily recognisable with its unique design and combination of wood and steel. The steel backing of the chair cleverly doubles as an armrest and its unfussy style combines well with any more general, vintage school desk.
Peter’s chair and table, Hans Wegner
This was designed in 1944 as a present for the baby son of Wegner’s friend and has a jigsaw-like simplicity: all the pieces for the table and chair slot together easily, with no sharp edges. It is rightly celebrated as a definitive and enduring classic in early children’s design and was, for example, one of the centrepieces of the Century of the Child exhibition at the Danish Design Museum in 2015. Here’s an image of my own children feeling exuberant in front of a giant image of it from the exhibition!
Harry Bertoia’s diamond and side chairs
Part of Bertoia’s iconic collection for Knoll in the 1950s, these two chairs are examples of furniture design classics shrunk in size for children from the adult originals. The diamond child’s chair is still produced by Knoll today, while the much rarer child’s version of the side chair (shown here) is available solely through luck! Try to contrast their slightly industrial feel with an element of softness – like a Luckyboysunday Palle Nulle.
Hoop chair, Rohe Noordwolde
This sweet, simple chair comprising two golden rattan hoops, black metal frame and white plastic feet, is a classic example of midcentury Dutch design. Manufactured by Rohe, Noordwolde in the Netherlands in the 1960s, the hoop chair is one of a range of rattan pieces once widely popular and increasingly used today for children’s styling. The hoop chair looks particularly lovely if combined with midcentury tones of mustard, teal and olive in a modern vintage-style room.
Nanna Ditzel trissen or toadstool tables
Nanna Ditzel designed her trissen or ‘toadstool’ tables in 1962 and has said they were inspired by the restlessness of children: “Children never sit still for two minutes, they get up, stand on the chair and subsequently it tips over.” To accommodate that, the toadstool chair can be rolled, placed on either end or stacked; it can also be used as either a stool or a table. Reminiscent of an oversized cotton reel, these beautiful tables add instant warmth and wit to any modern child’s interior. They are still produced today under license, but you can also try sourcing originals. These work brilliantly as bedside tables for children or as nursery tables, next to modernist wooden rockers.
Baumann children’s chairs and rockers
While probably better known for its classic French bistro chairs of the 1960s, Baumann also produced a range of more individual children’s pieces such as the beech lyre-shaped chair featured here and the rocking horse, both from late 1950s/early 1960s. These have a strong architectural quality – one reason they are often wrongly attributed to Charles and Ray Eames – and look as at home in a child’s room as a living room, where you can see them more often! Style them with other wooden design classics for more impact.
Deonne Rowland is the founder of the children’s interior design studio ‘Odd sock, odd shoe’. She loves bringing some style and beautiful design to children’s spaces –– whether that’s through a well-chosen item of midcentury furniture, a child-sized take on a design classic or a carefully sourced range of products from the best of today’s children’s design from around the world. Don’t miss her great Instagram account for more inspiration and check out her services on her website.