How Norwegian children inspired some of Scandinavia’s most innovative designs

at V&A Museum of Childhood

“When children are lifted up, the height differences are reduced and this may improve the interaction between children and grown-ups when sitting at the same table. Life around the table becomes more relaxed, and children find it easier to concentrate when the physical environment has been adapted to their size and needs.”

Norwegian designer, Peter Opsvik, has spent a substantial part of his professional carreer exploring childrens need for functional furniture. He is the designer of the famous Tripp Trapp-chair from STOKKE, with over 10 million units sold world wide since its launch in 1972. Back then, he was looking for a chair that allowed his two year old son to sit in a natural way at the “grown-ups table”. Fourty six years later, the famous Tripp Trapp-chair is not only a part of many Scandinavian households with children, it is also representing Norway in the exhibition Century of the Child – Nordic Design for children from 1900 until today at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.


Designer Peter Opsvik with his famous Tripp Trapp-Chair Photo: Peter Opsvik

“My objective was to design a chair that could seat children of all sizes from approximately 6-7 months and up, in a natural way at the same table, Opsvik tells Norwegian Arts. Opsviks groundbreaking idea for his Tripp Trapp-Chair included an adjustable seat and footrest, because a lot of children had no choice when they outgrew their baby “high chairs” than to sit on a normal adult chair with dangling feet and never reach up to the table surface properly.”

“My aim with providing normal functional dimensions for children of all sizes is that it would make sitting at the table more enjoyable and easier to perform activities there”, says Opsvik.

“A good support area for the feet is a prerequisite for being able to sit comfortably and actively. Sitting with dangling feet is very uncomfortable and it makes shifting position or movement difficult”.


Peter Opsvik son demonstrating the original Tripp Trapp-chair. Photo: Peter Opsvik

It comes as no surprise that the Tripp Trapp chair was chosen to represent Norway in the exhibiton Century of the Child. The exhibition aims to explore the influences which has helped forge Nordic crafts and artwork by showing how children have inspired some of the century’s most innovative ideas in architecture, design and literature.

Century of the Child borrows its title from the ground-breaking book, The Century of the Child by Swedish social theorist Ellen Key, first published in 1900. Key envisioned that during the 20th century, children would become the centre of adult’s attention. Her ideas on encouraging children’s creativity, education and rights have permeated Nordic design.

The four themes, Nordic Values, Design for Living, Creative Freedom and Eco-innovations will be explored through the exhibition.

Along with the famous Tripp Trapp-chair, Norway is presenting some innovative and trendsetting overalls by Helly Hansen amongst others.

From the other Nordic countries; iconic and influential design brands like BRIO, LEGO, Marimekko and Mommins have been brought together to show the UK audience the diversity of the Nordics.


Helly Hansens famous overall can also be seen at the exhibition. Photo: Helly Hansen


The widespread success of Nordic childhood products can be attributed to their innovative and intuitive designs, in which the child’s needs are central, something also Peter Opsvik and his Tripp Trapp-chair has focused on.

“If a products form follows the short-term fashion trends, one may risk that the product will soon will be unfashionable and will have an unnecessarily short lifespan”, Opsvik says and continues;

“Tripp Trapp however, has an unconventional functional solution and I gave it a distinctive visual form. Such products may experience longevity without being labelled unfashionable, because they avoid the short-term fashion trends”.

Century of the Child – Nordic Design for children from 1900 until today will be exhibit at the V&A Museum of Childhood from 30th of March til the 2nd of September 2018.


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