March 31, 2011,
A space-saving design from Berg Furniture includes two beds, a desk and a chest. bergfurniture.com
By Jessica Goldbogen Harlan
The latest technologies, along with the modern lifestyles of today's kids, are dictating the designs and trends of new baby and juvenile furniture introductions. From wired nightstands to creative storage solutions, juvenile furniture truly fits the needs of today's in-tune kids.
One company that's new to the juvenile furniture category, Magnussen Home, has incorporated successful ideas from its master bedroom collection into its new youth collection, called Next Generation. The collection is designed to also suit a guest bedroom or second bedroom.
For instance, like some nightstands in the master bedroom collection, nightstands in Next Generation are wired so a lamp can be plugged into the piece of furniture and turned on and off with a button on the side of the stand. The nightstands also feature a built-in nightlight and a charging station.
In Next Generation's beds, storage is a prominent feature. From under-bed drawers or storage rails to drawers in the footboard to hidden compartments within the headboard, there is plenty of room to stash away all the trappings of today's kids.
While Magnussen is a new player in the world of youth furniture, Berg Furniture has been in the juvenile business for 25 years, and continues to adapt its products to the changing needs of kids and their families.
"We are trying to design a complete environment for a kid, one which will encourage him to grow and be a better person," said Almog Lieber, president of Berg Furniture. "Our innovative designs aim to encourage innovation, creativity and self confidence."
One of the keystones to Berg's designs is the seamless integration of plenty of storage and a savvy utilization of space. For instance, a new three-bed system, designed for three kids sharing a room, has an uncluttered, open design. And Lieber says the company was the first to utilize stairs, rather than a ladder, to reach the top of a set of bunk beds.
At Bolton Furniture, the company also has incorporated stairs recently into its designs for bunk beds and loft beds. "When we surveyed our customers, they requested for us to add the stair option," said Ted Weber, sales manager for Bolton. "The stairs have a perception of being safer, and they also can add functional storage." The latest introduction from Bolton is a girls' collection called Emma, which has a French design and a choice of bed options that includes twin, full, bunk and four-poster.
Storage is also top of mind at Stanley Furniture's Young America division, where the company's new Mix line has some space-saving features, including pull-out writing surfaces on beds and chests. Mix also takes into account an important trend in kids' lives today--customization. Just like kids can design their sneakers or personalize mobile phones with apps, kids and their parents can select from a variety of options to create a room that expresses their personal style.
C & T International, the parent company of the Lusso, Sorelle and SB2 brands, is focused mainly on baby furniture. Since most cribs and related furniture are used well past the time when baby outgrows her crib, the company is attuned to the changing needs of families.
For instance, the changing table has given way to a double dresser shape, which can be used initially as a changing table, and then has plenty of storage space for when baby grows older. And George Ivaldi, president of C & T International, said that his company is getting out of the armoire business. "People in the U.S. have closets, and they prefer to have drawers." What's more, whereas armoires used to serve double duty as entertainment centers for televisions, now that flat-screen televisions are so popular, armoires are no longer needed for this purpose.
When it comes to cribs, Ivaldi said that the company's designers focus "not only on the crib aspect, but what it will look like as a full-sized bed." Cribs, he said, have a little more substance and a shapelier footboard. What's more, with new regulations regarding crib construction (including the elimination of drop-down crib sides), many of C&T's cribs now have a concave top rail that make it easier for shorter parents to reach into the crib to pick up their babies.
Indeed, when it comes to the aesthetics of the latest youth collections, industry players agree that styles are a little more grown-up than in the past. This trend is driven by the desire of consumers to make an investment in furniture that will be able to "grow up" with their child, or to be used in a guest bedroom after the child has left the home.
For Magnussen, the Next Generation collection is intended to double as guest-bedroom furniture, so "the styles are very transcending," said Larissa Rolland, marketing manager. "They don't look as juvenile; it's something that would be appealing across the board."
The motto at Young America is "built to grow," and Ward O'Quinn, product manager, said that pieces purchased for the nursery can typically be reconfigured at every stage of life. For instance, some of the company's cribs can be modified six ways. "Dressers can be outfitted initially with a changing station top, and then later combined with a mirror or a hutch on top that would make it appropriate for a teen or a young adult," said O'Quinn.
The juvenile-furniture manufacturers who are heading to the High Point Furniture Market this month are optimistic about their opportunities at the show.
For Magnussen, it is the first time that many retailers will get a look at Next Generation. "We have really high expectations, and we think it'll be a great market," Rolland said. She predicts that retailers will be particularly pleased that Next Generation is part of the company's successful QuickFlex 250 program, which enables retailers to place a very small minimum order--as little as two to three bedroom groups--in a single container. The order can include a mix of different collections, and now can include pieces from both the master and the Next Generation collections.
"It's good for smaller dealers who don't want to order such large amounts of inventory," Rolland said.
Berg Furniture is also anticipating a good response at High Point. "It seems there are definitely more and more buyers looking for our type of product," said Lieber. "I think we have a lot to offer them."
One message that the Berg team will likely be emphasizing is that the furniture is made entirely in the United States, which affords the company flexibility and a speedy delivery. Lieber said the company is capable of shipping any order in 10 days. "The advantage for a local manufacturer like us is that we are tuned very carefully to the ear of the consumer," Lieber said. "If we need to adjust and change, we can do it."