An excerpt from a letter handed out to folks who came to an open-shop event in March, 2013
We've tried to create an environment for kids that will keep them immersed in possibility: worlds of nature and science to study; realms of imagination to explore; an environment that can range from quiet and secluded to a grand space for friends to gather; a space so comforting and nurturing that kids will truly feel at home.
The whole concept of putting essentially a clubhouse type room inside a child's bedroom or playroom stems from wanting to create a child-sized world. Putting one of these cottages in a typical bedroom breaks the space up into smaller areas and hidden corners. A child now has to maneuver through his/her environment – including the 'second story' loft. The space becomes a little more complex and so more engaging – more mysterious. We're trying to convey to kids that we understand a child's world is fundamentally different from an adult's and that this is something to nurture. We want to give children permission to explore their innocence and curiosity free from adult parameters and adult expectations … for a while at least.
Many of the furniture pieces have compartments with trick openings to spur kids' curiosity and encourage them to pay attention to inner details. There is a little artwork 'around every corner' because kids should see the possibility of creating beauty from their earliest years – something, we believe, that comes naturally for every child when s/he is given the opportunity to explore it.
The 'Gateway Cottage' allows for a variety of functions: it is a retreat when quiet is wanted; it's an art studio; it's a highly organized study room (potentially, at least) with many storage spaces – some secret – for kids' varied interests. The cottage is also a theater space to offer performances for friends – puppets, singing recitals, backlit shadow displays, etc. And the cottage is a vehicle to help the imagination take off and soar.
The pieces of furniture built to accompany the cottage include a serious workbench with a 7 inch, quick release vise; a two-tiered dresser with a big secret compartment; and the 'incline' cabinet with its tilted countertop. There are several mechanical devises built into the furniture. The hope is that kids will grow curious about how these devises function, study them and eventually design and build some of their own. – ever advocating for 'Young Engineers!'
The individual pieces of furniture each have thought provoking aspects to challenge a child's view of the typical. Several of the pieces have multiple uses and are built to fit in different places. We want kids to realize that their environments are not static – that simple changes can rearrange whole outlooks.
Will these luxurious environments, filled with wonders, really implant all these lofty concepts? Hard to say as enthusiasm is tough to measure. We are really just hoping to give children an delightful place to live that will encourage their curiosity and sense of freedom in being a kid.
The traditional construction methods, and the use of only beautiful hardwoods is purely selfish on my part. I'm spoiled by years of building fine furniture and I have come to believe children will appreciate the comfort and warmth as much as any adult – maybe more. I would like to see these environments in as many kids' homes as possible. Ultimately too, we hope to spur kids' appreciation for all the wonders of our natural world and to encourage them to approach life artistically.