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Tidy Books US

Putting books at the heart of your child’s world

  • Less is more (and, yes, it might cost a bit more)

    Last night I was sitting reading a book and I realised my sofa was 20 years old. It’s as comfortable as it was when I bought it and still looks great in my lounge. I’ve never had the urge to buy a new one. I just don’t understand the desire to get rid of things before they’re broken or need replacing. I’m all about sustainability and longevity.

    Apparently our throwaway culture goes back to 1930s America when planned obsolescence’ products deliberately designed with a short lifespan – was used as a way to stimulate the economy after the Depression. People were encouraged to buy mass produced, disposable products that they didn’t actually need – and unfortunately, the idea stuck.

    sustainability; sustainable design; sustainable kids furniture; sustainable furniture; tidy books When less is more. Sustainable and timeless kids bookcases. Credit @nyearthur

    It’s the total opposite of what we do at Tidy Books, where everything is made with sustainability in mind. I don’t design to fit into a trend but focus on well made, timeless products that don’t date and can be passed down from sibling to sibling. I want our products to stay in your home – not end up in landfill.

    It surprises me when some people ask why our products are more expensive. When something seems cheaper maybe there’s a hidden cost like cheap factory labour or a cost to the environment such as the use of toxic lacquer. If you buy one thing that you cherish and that lasts, surely that makes more financial sense than buying something cheap and cheerful that soon gets chucked away for more of the same? One of our customers told us she’d had her bookcase for 15 years and it was still going strong. Quality costs less in the long run – and sustainable furniture costs the environment less too.

    I’ve always been quite eco-conscious and I’m not into buying something new just for the sake of getting the latest, trendiest model. I think that might be down to my upbringing – I was brought up in France by my grandparents, who were of a generation that never wasted anything and only bought what they needed. My appreciation of timeless quality was also instilled in me in my former job as a violin maker creating musical instruments that were designed to last for hundreds of years.

    I can’t guarantee that your Tidy Books product will last quite that long but it definitely covers my ethos – to buy one thing well and keep it!

    Do you look out for kids designs that offer sustainability?

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furnitureGeraldine 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.

  • 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’s iconic design – 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.

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

     

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

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furniture

    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.

  • International Children’s Book Day

    It’s always great to discover people who are as passionate about kids and reading as I am and this month I’ve come across a brilliant Lithuanian children’s author who’s highlighting the calming power of books as part of International Children’s Book Day 

    Held annually in the first week of April, International Children’s Book Day is celebrated to inspire reading and to help bring attention to children’s books. Each year, a different country’s author is featured and this time around it’s children’s writer and illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius – who explains how books can slow us down.

    international children's book day; childrens books, children reading, tidy books Time slows down when you read a book. Image @mummyconstant

    ‘We live in the age of information overload, haste and rush. But if you take a book into your hands, you immediately feel a change. It seems that books have this wonderful quality – they help us slow down. As soon as you open a book and delve into its tranquil depths, you no longer fear that things will whizz by at a maddening speed while you see nothing.’

    That really rings true for me.  When I was young, whenever I was feeling anxious I could rely on reading a book to help me slow down my thoughts and feel calmer. And now, as an adult, once I’ve got my head in a book I can lose myself in the story and forget about the stresses of the day.

    Research shows a direct link between reading and mental health.

    One study showed that school-aged pupils who enjoyed reading were much more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who didn’t. But research by University College London found that children today are spending less time reading and more time on their screens – which is having an adverse effect on both their mental health and their literacy levels.

    Reading, says Kasparavičius, is the opportunity for kids to unplug from their phone or tablet and reconnect with what’s around them. ‘Books teach us to notice things. The universe of a book is wide open; it happily fuses reality with imagination and fantasy. Was it in a book or in reality that you were lying in the summer grass, or sitting with your legs crossed, watching clouds sail across the sky?’

    I love that sentiment. When children immerse themselves in a book, they discover different places, interesting characters and new situations – and that sparks their curiosity to learn more in the real world. As Kasparavičius concludes: ‘Someone who enjoys reading – be it a child or adult – is much more interesting than someone who doesn’t care for books, who is always racing against the clock, who never has time to sit down, who fails to notice much of what surrounds them.’ I couldn’t agree more.

    What will you be reading this month to celebrate International Children's Book Day?

    tidy books, kids bookshelf, kids storage, kids furnitureGeraldine 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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