Furniture Design, Personal Project
Researcher, designer, Fabricator
Third Prize in 2013 Dalian Design Festival
In our modern world of fast-paced lifestyles, playing with kids has become a sweet burden to parents. Busy work left little time for parents to play with their children.
This Furniture design is meant to create an indoor game space for children, which would foster parent-child interaction. In these chairs I combine toys with chairs. The chairs provide parents a place to sit and relax and provide kids a place to play. I try to narrow the psychological distance between children and parents by narrowing the physical distance.
#1. Topic Determination
The subject of this project was Wood Furniture Design. The topic that I picked was furniture design for Chinese urban families. After a preliminary research on urban populations, I had a basic understanding about urban families, and narrowed down the user group to one-child families - husband, wife, and one child, which is the typical family structure in urban area. Then the usage environment would be Chinese urban housings.
#2. Existing Knowledge
To understand more about characteristics of the target group and environment, I conducted a literature review in order to obtain deeper insights on aspects of living status, housing types, and consumption patterns. Valuable findings had been obtained during this process.
Majority of mothers in China work.
The urban employment rate is on a high level. In 2011, the female employment rate in Chinese urban area is 74%, which is very close to the rate of 80% for the male. (The average female employment rate of the world is 53%) 72% of mothers between 25 and 34 years of age with children under the age of 6 are employed.
Activity range is limited at housing area.
Due to rapidly increasing commercial land development and populations migrating from rural area，Chinese urban areas always have high prices of dwelling and insufficient lands to the people. High-rise residential buildings are products of the phenomenon. According to a report of China Index Academy, the average individual housing area of urban housing in 2011 is 29.2m. (314.3ft )
Moreover, in most urban communities, the public entertainment facilities are lack or poorly maintained, making it less possible for residents to have activities around the housing area.
#3. User Interview
In order to locate the pain point, as well as to explore user needs and expectations, I conducted interviews with 2 mothers and 1 father, all of whom were employed.
After data transcription and analysis, insights about the problem area are listed as following:
Parents are too busy working, and only have a little time to stay home or hang out with their children.
Heavy workload left parents little time for them to relax.
Lacking of safe public entertainment facilities for children.
Children only have limited entertainment space in housings.
The lack of physical activities is likely to makes children addicted to TV programs or cell phone games.
Urban one-child families really need some approaches that could provide them opportunities to enjoy family life and narrow the distance between parents and kids in the stressful urban life style. The approches should be easy and time-saving, and must be safe and interesting to children.
#1. Concept Developing
I was planning to design some entertainment furniture that is able to facilitate parent-child interaction, and therefore narrow the distance between parents and their children. Finally I decided to design a series of game chair, which provides seating to parents and also provides a safe entertainment space for children. The narrowing of physical distance create opportunity for parent-child interaction.
Chair PrototypeConsidering the consistency of the series, I unified the chair structure of each design. Because the design point focuses on how the games are connected with the chair, the prototype is just a normal pine wood chair. The seating function is for parents, therefore the size is for adults.
After a brainstorm of the games for children of 3 - 10 years old, I picked out several games that are applicable to the structure of a chair. Then I tested the feasibility of such applications and think about whether they are appropriate for an indoor circumstance, and finally determined the games that I am going to integrate into my furniture design.
#2. Design & Renderings
A box with a inclining bottom is installed under the chair, which can be opened from the back side of the chair. On the other sides of the box there are twelve holes in different shapes. Children can put different blocks into the box via corresponding holes. When the box is opened, blocks fall out automatically.
Just like the blackboard chair, the foosball chair also has a detachable seat plate. When the seat plate is removed and installed on the chair back, the chair becomes a tiny foosball table. The removed seat board turns into a scoreboard. The little ball will roll to one side of the chair along wooden tracks installed under the foosball table.
This chair has a detachable seat plate, which is painted with blackboard paint. The seat plate can be removed and then installed on the chair back. Under the original seat plate there is a narrow seat, which allows a child to sit inside the chair, and use the chair as an easel. The chalk box is installed beside the seat. The eraser is attached to the box cover.
The back of the chair is designed into a curtain-like shape, providing children with a tiny stage for a “puppet show”. It is painted with magnetic painting, so children can decorate the stage with decoration magnets. A drawer is installed under the chair to store the puppets and decorations.
Three colorful twisted tracks are installed on the chair back. Some colorful beads are threaded on the tracks, making the chair a large beads game.
An abacus is installed on the chair back. The sticks are bent in a certain degree, corresponding to the arch of human back. The colorful beats provide a great visual effect
This chair is installed with a balance game. The balance game is assembled with strings and grooved wood pieces with holes. As shown in the rendering, player can control the inclination of the wood pieces, to control the direction of a little ball. The little ball will eventually fall into one of the pits on the last piece of wood. Each pit has a score. The score system gives the game more fun.
This game chair combines the chair with twisted blocks. To put the clocks on the sticks installed on the chair, the child has to rotate the clock to a certain angle. The colorful blocks are also a beautiful decoration.