Seating for Kids
V&A Museum of Childhood
6 February – 5 September 2010
When is a seat not just for sitting on? When it’s a plaything, for eating, for transport or for a quick snooze. Sit Down: Seating for Kids, the V&A Museum of Childhood’s next big exhibition on design for kids, will explore the vast array of seating used by children in their everyday lives. Taking the children’s classic tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears as a starting point, the exhibition will invite the visitor, as Goldilocks did, to consider what makes a successful seat. Is it comfort? Is it style? Is it ease of use?
Sit Down will delve into the world of children’s seating with classic and more unusual examples. After centuries of traditional seating forms following accepted design conventions, the 20th century witnessed an explosion of creative solutions to the idea of seating, including those for children. This exploration of new forms, materials, and production methods, as well as technological developments, resulted in more colourful and innovative seating designs for children. Designs by Charles Eames, Vitra and El Ultimo Grito will be on display, as well as the Modernist high chair by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and Spotty, a 1960s paper chair designed by Peter Murdoch.
The exhibition will use the term ‘seating’ in its broadest sense, encompassing a wide range of functional and playful objects designed to be used primarily for sitting upon. This will include chairs, benches, sofas, bean bags, ride-on toys, potties, highchairs and play equipment.
Sit Down will be set out in three main sections, each asking a question for visitors to consider: What is a seat? Who is the seat for? and How is a seat made? The first room, entered through a large, medium or small doorway, recreates the feel of the Three Bears’ cottage, with an interactive dinner table where visitors can vote for their favourite chair by placing a coloured spoon in different porridge bowls. Different examples of kids’ seating will be on display.
In the next room, the exhibition looks at how seating has been adapted for wellbeing, learning, play, resting and transport, again with the objects on open display. Visitors will see how these objects have developed and modernised over time, in particular developmental furniture such as highchairs and potties, where safety and hygiene have influenced new designs. Here visitors will be able to try out different seat types to work out their function and match the seats to the different room settings that will be illustrated on the exhibition wall. The exhibition closes with a timeline from 1600 to the eco-friendly designs of the present day and the opportunity for visitors to build their own seat.
Changes in the notion of ‘childhood’ have effected design for children throughout history. The exhibition will draw from the Museum of Childhood collection of furniture as well as selected loans to explore the range of seating made for or used by children. Issues including social context, how and why styles have changed and the growing popularity of designer seating specifically created to meet children’s needs are also considered.
The exhibition experience will be engaging and multi-sensory with images and hands-on activities and interpretation for a family audience. In addition, a group of students from Bucks New University’s Furniture Design course will look at how best to reinvent the school chair, which has barely changed from its Robin Day-inspired design. And Ercol’s school chair arch, unveiled for the London Design Fair, will be on display in the Museum’s central hall.
Musical Chairs Marathon – Saturday 6 February
How quick can you sit? Celebrate the opening of Sit Down with a hilarious musical chair challenge. In the afternoon, design a miniature chair to take home.
Sit on it! February half-term activities – Monday 15-Friday 19 February
Enjoy stories, trails and crafts about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Plus Three Bears Storytrail
Who’s been sitting in my chair? Search for clues in a Three Bears Storytrail for a chance to win a goody bag. Make a bear mask and bear chair in a free, fun, drop-in arts session.
Notes to editors
The exhibition has been designed by architects Wells Mackereth. www.wellsmackereth.com
Sit Down: Seating for Kids opens on Saturday 6 February and closes on Sunday 13 June 2010. Admission to the exhibition is FREE. V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA. Admission to the Museum is free. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green. Open daily: 10.00 – 17.45, last admission 17.30. Switchboard: 020 8983 5200 Website: www.museumofchildhood.org.uk
The V&A Museum of Childhood aims to encourage everyone to explore the themes of childhood past and present and develop an appreciation of creative design through its inspirational collections and programmes. The Museum is part of the V&A, housing the national childhood collection. The galleries are designed to show the collections in a way which is accessible to adults and children of all ages.
For further PRESS information or images please contact Rebecca Ward on 020 7613 3306 or email [email protected].
Image below provided by Mimimyne