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Original design classics... and sausages!

I love designs that help solve a problem or make life easier.  So as we’re celebrating our 15th birthday I thought I’d also celebrate three iconic designs that made a big difference to me when my kids were growing up.

Time has flown since my three-year-old daughter’s struggle to find her favourite book inspired me to design a bookcase that made choosing books easier. That was the start of Tidy Books 15 years ago and ever since then I’ve been creating original designs that help children to become independent readers.

Like a lot of mums, I’ll always remember my Maclaren pushchair.  Forget the stress of trying to collapse your pushchair while holding onto a baby and shopping bags. Suddenly here was a lightweight, portable stroller that easily folded in on itself like an umbrella.  It was revolutionary. And I love that it was designed by a former aviation engineer after he saw his daughter struggling with her pram.  Like my bookcase, Maclaren is one of those iconic designs – which is permanently on display at the Design Museum in London – was designed for a purpose and to be useful.

iconic designs, original design, children's design, tidy books The iconic Maclaren buggy, invented in 1965. Photo: Maclaren

The same ethos was behind the Stokke Tripp Trapp® high chair. Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik couldn’t find a high chair for his two-year-old son to sit at the table with the rest of his family – so he made one. I discovered the high chair when my son, Emile, was little and was so impressed by the thought that had gone into it. It was just the right height so I could pull the chair up to the table and have Emile with us when we were eating or sitting around chatting – which was brilliant for his development. What’s really clever about the Tripp Trapp® chair is that the seat and footplates are adjustable so it can be used all the way from baby stage to adulthood – hence being known as ‘a chair for life’. It looks lovely in the home, too, something I’ve always strived to achieve with my own Tidy Books original designs.

Now sausages may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re designing a new product – but that’s exactly what inspired the iconic Micro scooter. Swiss banker Wim Ouboter had a favourite sausage shop that was a mile and a half from his office. The distance was too far to walk but not far enough away to bother getting the car out of the garage and parking. So he designed a scooter to get him there. It was definitely a hit in our household. With its robust design and two front wheels keeping the scooter stable, I was quite happy to let Emile whizz around on his, knowing he was safe while learning to enjoy the freedom of his own independent travel.

original design, iconic design, childrens bookcase The first, original Tidy Books bookcase which I made for my daughter Adele in 2004

* So that’s three of my favourite iconic designs. What’s the original design that you love most?  

geraldine grandidier, tidy books

Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

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