Designer Bell Kink and the team at her Berlin-based design studio, Studio Belize, create sustainable design classics for families. Their portfolio includes products such as cribs, climbing triangles, high chairs, play mats and more. Their design approach combines design, durability, pedagogy and sustainability.
The founder & designer of Studio Belize® in an interview:
How do you define design?
Bell Kink: Design to me is the creative fusion of form and function. It's about creating a space or object that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also functional and sustainable. In terms of children's furniture, this means creating spaces and furniture that understands the children's room as an overall composition. Children's development, feelings and emotions should be included in the design process just as much as their safety and well-being.
"Design is the fusion of form and function."
I design children's furniture so that they can create times and survive times with families. To make this possible, my designs demand the highest standards of quality, construction and materials. My designs are created, rethought and optimized in many ways. Because Studio Belize designs are characterized by timelessness in addition to their aesthetics. Not only in terms of their design, but also in terms of their durability and robustness. My designs should be able to age with the families, mature and get traces. They accompany families in their experiences, in good times and in stormy times. Our objects spend time with families. They become part of the family and that makes me proud.
Can you describe your design process for us?
Bell Kink: My design process always starts with the idea of how the piece of furniture or space can support the child in their development. Soothing and feelings of safety and security play an important role here.
"The overall composition of the room & the feeling of security."
When designing a baby crib, for example, I think about how it will affect the baby and how it will look in the room. Additionally, I incorporate into the design how the baby bed can adapt to the baby's changing needs and abilities. Dealing with design elements such as shapes and color schemes is just as important here as the functional components. Safety considerations and the changing needs of children at their respective ages and parents are just as much a part of the design process as aesthetics.
A baby crib that grows with the child, for example, can be designed very differently. Growing with means that the baby bed adapts to the development of the child and also to the changing needs / use cases of the parents. This is done, for example, by height-adjustable mattress positions for the baby, removable crib rails as access for the mobile toddler, or completely removable side panels that turn the baby crib into a daybed, making the baby crib a resting place for the 2-3 year old toddler.
"Growing baby beds adapt to the needs of the child & parents."
Many customers think of grow-along baby cribs as the 70x140 baby crib, which can be converted into an extended crib that provides more space for the growing child between the ages of 5-7. In fact, this function of the growing baby bed is not used very often, because children at this age usually want a new bed. They often don't want to sleep in their baby bed then, which often makes the feature redundant then. This is a good example of how good design and construction should be very close to the real and genuine needs of children and parents, to provide real emotional as well as functional value.
Why are durability, materials and quality important in children's furniture?
Bell Kink: Quality, high quality, the materials and I would also like to add sustainability as well as design are more than just product features. They are an expression of parental values, their lifestyle and their own aspirations. Customers buy quality furniture to meet their own demands with regard to these points. Customers who do not care about these issues buy IKEA.
"Quality, durability and design are expressions of parental values."
Don't get me wrong. Companies like IKEA play an important role in our society by making design and good furniture accessible to the masses. I mean who has never bought from IKEA . Design objects are just something different. They are for customers who are in a different phase of life and have different demands on their furniture and their children's furniture. Some parents simply prefer more individual design and higher quality, which they can find at designers, design studios, designer outlets or independent furniture manufacturers. IKEA baby beds and IKEA children's furniture simply have a different level of individuality, durability and sustainability. It's just a different lifestyle and a different set of values behind companies like IKEA.
What drives you to keep creating new designs?
Bell Kink: It's a passion for helping children and their families create a space that nurtures them and makes them happy. I am always looking for new ways to support children and families through design and sustainability. As a mom, I know the importance of durable and functional family furniture, but I also know how happy beauty, clever details and special materials can make people. This is probably not true for everyone. However, there is a special type of person who is touched by details, refined workmanship and designs that are not commonplace, and who is fascinated by the symbiosis of from and function.
It is the passion to think along, to optimize in a functional as well as emotional way. Because nothing else means sustainability in furniture making. I believe that we can make our world a better place through good sustainable design. By creating furniture that is durable, functional and beautiful, we are helping to preserve our planet for future generations. It is this passion for design and being creative that motivates me to find and create solutions every day.
How do you see the future of design and specifically children's furniture?
Bell Kink: I see the future of design and specifically children's furniture as being more focused on sustainability and adaptability. As the needs and abilities of families, children and parents are constantly changing, furniture should be able to adapt to these changes.
"Products and value creation in the furniture industry must become CO2 neutral."
At the same time, we need to ensure that our products and value creation in the furniture industry become more environmentally friendly and CO2 neutral. This means using high-quality, sustainable materials and avoiding harmful chemicals, as well as adapting business models. Selling in the form of circular economy and offering rental models as an addition to traditional sales. These are topics we already offer at Studio Belize and continue to develop.
However, one thing is timeless, the high demand of family people. Their desire to feel at home, the need to enjoy time with their family, their loved ones, and to offer their own family the best possible. It is precisely for these family people that I make furniture.