CIDA Award Submission

  • Imogen Turner

Cocoon is a non-prescriptive space that stimulates learning by doing. Its colourful interior is a contrast to the outside world, defining it as an area especially for children.

Colour in Design Award Submission
New Designers 2020
Have you ever returned to somewhere you used to visit as a child?

Was it smaller than you remembered?

This is because children are smaller than adults, and have a lower eye level. The majority of objects in the world are scaled for adults, and this can be intimidating for small children.

I set out to design something children will understand is for them, and feel safe and comfortable inside as a result.

Early on in the project I wanted Cocoon to have a colourful interior in contrast to a neutral exterior. This defines the interior space as something exciting and appealing, not only scaled for children but 'decorated' for them as well. The child can feel safe and confident knowing that this space is especially for them.
I tested a 1:1 prototype at a toddler group and in a reception class. A response which unexpectedly came up time and time again was the children being drawn to the colour and pattern inside. Without any other toys, staring at the fabric and identifying colours and shapes became a form of entertainment and focus.

This drove me to design my own fabric, with a choice of shape and colour tailored to children.
I took photographs in my garden to create colour palettes based on nature, based on something real. After researching colour, the colours generated from this image provided the right balance for a child-friendly space.

Yellow - attention grabbing while not as aggressive as red

Blue - associated with the sky and sea, calm and comforting

Green - calming, can balance out attention grabbing colours

The links in the brain are not completed in a child until 5-8 years, so colour is an important tool in helping children to recognise things around them. It is something children learn from an early age and so something they can comprehend.

At this age, a lack of stimuli can cause a lack of concentration, anxiety and nervousness, while too much stimuli can be overwhelming.

The colour scheme I have selected has a balance of colours, to provide focus while not being intimidating.
Alongside colour, I have created a pattern of shapes that will be familiar to young children, another tool to help them name and describe objects while their brains are developing.
The form of the final product is soft and malleable, so that when 'closed' a kid-sized space is created. However, the form can also unzip for the child to uncover their own ways of positioning.
Cocoon is stitched into 12 sections which gives it's mallebility. Within each section are three layers:

1- Corrugated sheet made of recycled polypropylene - this provides strength, making the form robust and long lasting. It can also be removed so that Cocoon can be washed.

2- Bio-based polyurethane foam - what makes Cocoon so soft. Using the alternative bio-based foam, which is commonly made using vegetable oils, it is a more sustainable choice. The lightweight material also means a reduced fuel consumption in transportation.

3 - GOTS Certified 100% Cotton - cotton is kind to children's skin, and the pattern is printed with non-toxic ink. Being GOTS certfied, the material is sustainable at every step of manufacture.

Cocoon is designed to be non-prescriptive, so that it's uses can develop as the child grows and develops. It is hoped that it can be a safe space for the children of the household and those close to them, and something reused for generations to come.

Once inside Cocoon, the child is at last given some time away from the adult world. In a space scaled for them, surrounded by familiar colours and shapes, they are free to use Cocoon however they wish. Non-prescriptive play is encouraged, the imagination is the limit!

© Imogen Turner 2020