say hi to_ kinder MODERN x Lucas Maassen & Sons
Oftentimes our features, whether that be an article or an Instagram post, are typically driven by an aesthetic draw or from an approach of scouting new talent. We then get in touch with the designers to find out the story behind the work and explore their concepts behind the scenes. My discovery and intrigue for the work of Kinder Modern and their upcoming exhibition which launches tomorrow, Before & Be After: Growing Up Design with Lucas Maassen & Sons started in the opposite way.
In my Instagram newsfeed, which is usually a sea of furniture, I saw a post featuring a man and three young boys. I went on to read the caption which spoke about Dutch Designer, Lucas Maassen, who has been working in collaboration with his three sons on furniture collections throughout their childhood. I then went on to read how their family team collaborated together on a collection which was inspired by one of his son’s recent (and thankfully, successful) open heart surgery.
I felt quite moved by the story and equally curious to see what they had created together. I quickly dug a little deeper to subsequently discover the children’s furniture gallery ‘Kinder Modern’ and it’s founder, Lora Appleton, who curated the collection and exhibition.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the ever-inspiring powerhouse businesswoman and super mom, Lora, on the phone to hear more. We chatted about her beautifully curated children’s furniture design gallery and studio, the upcoming exhibition and difficulties and pleasures of running your own business.
May 11 - 25, 2018
'Before & Be After: Growing Up Design with Lucas Maassen & Sons'
Eindhoven-based Lucas Maassen & Sons and New York based Lora Appleton have been collaborating from the very beginning, launching kinder MODERN's inaugural collection together in 2013. Fast forward to 2018 and the two, or five rather, have come together once again for their most recent collaborative exhibition and collection Before & Be After: Growing Up Design with Lucas Maassen & Sons.
While on the phone with Lora, she recounted how she first discovered Lucas' and his sons' interesting collaborative way of working, through an article she had read online. Due to Dutch child labor laws, the boys were only permitted to work for three hours each week, which lead to their signature painting aesthetic out of a necessity to keep their production speed down.
For the current exhibition, Lucas and his three sons, Thijme, Julian, and Maris were influenced by their most recent personal struggle through Maris’ successful open heart surgery last fall. The hole in his heart provided the framework for this show, which is an homage to its fortuitous patching, exploring the before and how to "be after" such a life event. The new collection includes furniture, ceramics, and objects around a central theme of 'holes and patching holes'.
Through the years of transatlantic collaborations, the two families have become very close with the help of Skype. Lora and her son (who will meet the boys for the first time) are very excited to welcome the whole Maassen clan to New York, not only celebrate their newest collaboration, launching tomorrow - but to celebrate the oldest twins birthday on their first-ever trip to the US!
This is the first time we have featured or covered the realm of children's furniture, in any capacity. Between my fascination for the (personally) uncharted territory of design children's furniture and Lora's passion and insight - I may or may not have have kept her on the phone way longer than she had planned.
Firstly, I have to say that from the beginning of the call Lora's wamth and authenticity had made me feel like we had known each other for years. We immediately dove into talking business, history of design, how to manage unruly employees and the difference in European and American family structure - I actually forgot I was doing an interview and not calling a friend for a moment.
Lora's first three career(s) were spent working in the film industry, developing media production and ten years owning and running a graphic design agency; Lora walked away with a vast breadth of skills and knowledge.
We bonded over the fact that the idea for kinder MODERN quite literally came to her in a dream (as did say hi to_, for me), after her first son was born and she was unable to find aesthetic or interesting children's furniture.
Part furniture gallery, part in-house design studio creating their own line of furniture, part external designer collaborations, part bringing international designers to the US, part vintage children's furniture dealer and studio concepting and production site-specific installations - kinder MODERN literally does everything and more in the realm of children's furniture... "Honestly, it was just luck and timing. We came onto the market when no one else was doing it." - Laura humbly tells me; although behind such a multifaced company, we also know a hell of a lot of hard work is part of the equation.
Okay, let's have a look ...
I know that I am supposed to be an expert in the field of furniture design but ... can I be perfectly honest with you? I had no idea that the likes of Pierre Paulin, Prouvé or Arne Jacobsen made children's furniture. Here is a selection of vintage, in house and contemporary children's chairs currently available at kinder MODERN. I'm not at all ready, but considering having a child any second now just to go shopping.
Liz Collins and Harry Allen
After spending too much time ripping up her knees on the synthetic rug on her son's floor, Lora said screw this... why are there no quality rugs for children? and voilà, kinder Ground was born which is an in-house children's carpet line made up of area rugs, modular rugs and some beautiful artist collaborations.
I loved hearing the intricacies of the creative process behind how they decide what to produce and why. We may merely see a smaller scale chair, on first glance, but the creative process is completely different to the approach to designing furniture for adults. "If an adult went into a room with a chair, he would pull the chair out and sit on it. If you put a child in a room with a chair, they might flip it over and try to turn it into something else, hide under it and find a completely different function for it... so that means we have to take a lot more safety precautions and think more about weight and form." Lora explained to me. She also said that spending so much time playing with her son and their friends, she gets first hand accounts of what they want - from rings to hold small toys in to what furniture they might need in their bedroom.
Don't miss 'Before & Be After: Growing Up Design with Lucas Maassen & Sons'
Exhibition Dates + Times
May 11 - May 25, 2017
10 - 6pm