Written by: Staff Sunday, July 24th, 2011 .
It’s easy to forget how big the world seemed when we were small children; not just in the sense of possibility, but in actual scale. Back when we were eye-level with our parent’s knees, everyday objects towered over us. These were the days when we knew more about the underside of a table then the topside and the upper reaches of bookshelves, cabinets, and counters were mysterious uncharted territories. The designers at the Japanese firm Nendo, however, have not forgotten and integrate the child’s perspective of the world into their Tokyo Baby Café.
Nendo describes their work as a way to “give people a small ‘!’ moment” through design. “!” is the perfect way to describe what popped into our minds when we first saw photos of the Tokyo Baby Café. At first glance, the subdued color scheme prevents the eye from noticing much while scanning the room. Then the giant sofa at the end of the room leaps out at you and that’s when you get the “!” moment. Suddenly the scale of the room has been flipped and a typical piece of furniture belongs to the land of giants; the adult’s perspective has now been shifted to that of the small child.
This playful blend of a parent’s and child’s way of seeing the world is meant to provide a space that is entertaining for both without leaning too much towards one or the other. The Tokyo Baby Café maintains a certain level of sophistication in the design so that the parent’s don’t feel like they are in a nursery, but at the same time they won’t have to worry about their rambunctious little ones disturbing the other customers. Every element of the café is designed to appeal to big and small alike. While parents enjoy their coffee and conversation over the table, the children can explore the underside that has been printed with pictures of baby and parent animals. Parents can then drop their kids off at the large-scale sofa sculpted into a playpen, or pick out toys and books from fully stocked shelves. To underscore the transition from the adult’s world to the child’s world, the floor boards change size and become larger as they approach the big furniture.
Nendo also took into consideration some of the practical features that are necessary when little children are on the loose. Functional items such as door handles and light switches have been placed just out of reach of any curious hands. They even had stroller maneuverability in mind and left plenty of room in the aisles to move around without bumping into other patrons. With so much to keep the kids occupied, it makes you wonder how many parents will be found catching a quick nap in the big comfy sofa.