As parents to be, when we began to kit little Kai’s space out we soon realized that the products available for babies and toddlers were not only far from what we wanted, they were poorly made and designed. After numerous hours of research spent online, in baby shops and expos, we decided “who better to design and make what we were looking for than Carl”. With a background in Industrial Design, a love of wood and German eye for detail and quality, Carl would be able to create only the best for our little one (and yours). Once we started down this path we soon discovered that other moms and dads were in the same boat. Thus, began our exciting journey and the birth of Birnbaum Designs.
To understand our product more, below Carl touches on his process. From design to selecting the perfect materials, to the final steps he takes to ensure a product is not only functional and fun to use, but also safe for your little ones.
The start of any design process begins with research. I look at what is available on the market, how the products are constructed, their aesthetic and what materials are used. All these factors have to be taken into consideration before I even begin to conceptualize a design.
When it comes to designing for babies and toddlers, there are additional considerations I have to consider. Safety is the main priority. I also make sure that when I construct a product it is built to last. We live in a throwaway and disposal culture, and the saying ‘they don’t make things like they used to,’ finds its way into a conversation about design more often than not. A piece of furniture should be durable. Finding the balance between aesthetics, functionality and quality is essential to any design and its process.
When selecting materials, again I look for ones that are earth conscious, safe for little ones and still hold the aesthetic qualities that I want to achieve in my design. I use mainly Birch Plywood. Not only is it made from sustainable forests, the entire Birch tree is used. It is engineered to be tough and it machines beautifully. It requires minimal finishing bringing out the natural beauty in the wood grain and is luxurious to the touch. The sealants we use are water-based and not harmful to the environment or your children.
I grew up watching my father restore antique furniture. Watching him take apart and reconstruct an old chair always fascinated me. The care furniture builders in the past took to make their joinery fit seamlessly, creating that little detail that made the piece strong but beautiful at the same time. When it comes to joinery, the Japanese are the masters, they seem to have fun with it, the care taken and the way two pieces of wood are ingeniously connected without fasteners is what I find truly amazing. It’s like a puzzle. I like to have fun with puzzling a piece together. Constructing a piece in such a way that it all locks together not only ensures that it will last but also creates those interesting details that the eye picks up.
I believe one should have fun when designing, Form follows function, but the play one has achieving that makes the whole process worthwhile.