Play is an essential part of childhood, helping children to develop motor and spatial skills, as well as essential social skills. Play furniture can play an important role in these processes, so it makes sense to include it in nurseries.
Animals have long been a perennial favourite of both children and designers. It is no wonder, that Eero Aarnio’s 1973 ‘Pony’, an abstracted, upholstered, seating sculpture, is still produced today by ADELTA. Alessandro Mendini’s ‘Unicorno’ for Riva 1920 is a low wooden bench made out of old Venetian mooring masts and finished to resemble a unicorn.
Charles and Ray Eames’s ‘Eames Elephant’ is a delightful plastic piece of play furniture, first developed using plywood in 1945. George Nelson’s colourful, graphic, 1965 wall clock ‘Elihu the Elephant’, along with ‘Omar the Owl’ and ‘Fernando the Fish’, can all be used to teach children to tell the time. All these designs are manufactured by Vitra.
Rocking play furniture is dominated by horses, such as Marc Newson’s moulded polyethylene ‘Rocky’ for Magis and O&M Design’s wooden ‘Mokuba’ for Brdr. Krüger. However, Pininfarina's ‘Giulia Big | Giulia Small’ for Riva 1920 is a more abstract rocker made from a single, organically sculpted piece of wood and a metal handle. Alfredo Häberli’s ‘Pick-up’ play furniture for OFFECCT is an upholstered, castor-mounted trolley, which can be used as a walking aid by the little ones, or a vehicle by older children.
Louise Campbell’s aptly named ‘Seesaw’ for Erik Jørgensen is a fully upholstered piece of play furniture, which can be used by two children at a time. Marcel Wanders’s ‘Swing with the plants’ is a small, plastic swing suspended from the ceiling, with flower pots integrated in its seat, allowing plants to climb up the cables.
Finally, while Jörg de Breuyn’s ‘Indoor Play area DBF 470.’ is a large, colourful structure with stairs, walls and windows that children can explore and play in, Valérie Jomini’s and Stanislas Zimmermann’s ‘itpet recreative furniture’ by itdesign is a series of abstract, upholstered shapes that children can position themselves to create their own play landscape.