Parents demand children’s products that take into account children’s needs without renouncing aesthetics or aspects as ease of use and versatility. These are some of the results of the first year of research of Design4children European project that the Spanish Manufacturers Association of Children’s Products (ASEPRI) and the Biomechanics Institute of Valencia (IBV) have presented today in FIMI.
This research has focused in how parents perceive childcare products, children’s clothing and footwear. First results indicate that the design of these products must have into account children’s needs and ensure that they are more ergonomic, comfortable and ease to use by parents.
In the clothing and footwear sector, for children aged between 0-4 aspects related with tactile sensation (textiles more comfortable and pleasant to touch), thermal protection and versatility of use must be taken into account, while parents expectations are more centred in being more easy to put on/out, washing easiness, and of course aesthetics.
In the case of children older than 4, children’s needs are focused on the easiness to put on/out, thermal protection, versatility and aesthetics, while parents pay attention also in the product durability (that not wears out easily) and that is easy to wash.
The Biomechanics Institute researcher and coordinator of the Project, José Olaso, confirms “a tendency to solve the classic problem of the children design by reducing the pattern of the product developed for an adult. Even so, there exist a lot of knowledge gaps in textile patterning and footwear design that should be revised to fit products to childhood, both from the anthropometric and functional points of view”.
As regards to childcare products, children needs cover aspects related with safety and basic quality, be pleasant to touch and adapt ergonomically to the child and his/her growth.
In order to satisfy parents’ needs they should have into account the ergonomics of adults in their design and aspects as the ease to storage, versatility, ease to use and aesthetics.
“In fact, - indicates the researcher of the Biomechanics Institute and coordinator of the Project, José Olaso- we have observed that aesthetics plays a role much more important that many parents are willing to admit in the evaluation and selection of products for childhood”.
In the childcare sector there is still a lot to be done from child’s comfort point of view and the ease to use for the parents. In these products’ safety has been the key point through which all pass strict standards on the matter. “However, there are still things to do in adapting products in order assure children comfort (for example, in thermal comfort of the baby carriages and strollers) and improving their use (ease to fold and storage, more versatility and aspects related with obsolescence and durability of the product)”, points out José Olaso.
In general, parents need more and better information than they are receiving for the suitable selection of children products and it must include both the product itself and the children’s needs.
Design4Children is a three year project that started at the end of 2010 with the aim of improving Europeans SMEs’ competitiveness of the childcare products sector, developing innovative design tools that promote the improvement of the children comfort and extend the useful life of the project.
During these sessions has also been presented e-Child, a European project of the Leonardo program that will develop a specialization course for children products’ designers in topics related with ergonomics and easiness of use. Started last week, the result of this initiative will be available online, in different languages, by the end of 2013.
With the first phase of the project already completed regarding the research of the needs in ergonomics, comfort and safety, during the next years, three innovative tools will be developed trough R&D and ICT: a design support tool, a virtual mannequin to evaluate designs and a buyer support platform through web 2.0. These tools will promote the differentiation of the children products against international competence, apart from promoting comfort, welfare and safety of children.
Under the management of ASEPRI and the technical coordination of IBV, 12 entities from 7 countries of the European Union that are leaders in both the children’s products sector and in the new technologies sector take part in Design4Children.
In particular, the design support software tool “Design Supporter” will support the professionals during the definition of the design process giving them clues and recommendations that allow the designer to develop products that assure the comfort and welfare of children.
The “Virtual Tester”, a virtual mannequin to test virtual designs, will allow SMEs to evaluate the functional performance of their designs without the need of manufacturing them, so it will reduce the price and speed up considerably the creation of products.
Finally, the web 2.0 “Purchase Advisor” will advise parents to take decision during the buying process of products, apart from helping clients and retailers in the selection of products according to children needs.
Design4Children project (www.design4children.eu) has a budget of 2.055.261 Euros within the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Commission managed by the REA – Research Executive Agency (FP7 / 2007 – 2013) under the grant agreement nº 243719. Moreover, it counts with the IMPIVA support in its condition of regional entity of business innovation under the authority of the Conselleria de Industria, Comercio e Innovación.