True professionals helped us develop VIMUND
When we develop new children's products, children themselves are our most important – and toughest – critics. VIMUND junior chair was tested by a number of young professionals in both Sweden and China before all the details and features fell into place. It became clear to us that children are always moving – even when they're seated.
It was during one of those overcast summer break days when nobody wants to swim and everyone's a little bored. Ola Kristensson was actually on holiday from his job as Product Developer at IKEA, but he brought a job project to his summer cottage on Sweden’s West Coast. It involved prototypes for a new junior chair for children between 6 and 12 years. Maybe the children living nearby could come and test the chair? After all, they're truly professional – at being children. And an ice-cream later the children were in full swing with their testing and feedback.
Flexibility meets children's needs
The task that Ola and his team had been given a year earlier was to develop a comfortable desk chair that can adapt as the child grows. Detailed knowledge about children's ergonomics and their needs determined the chair's design and features. ”Children are constantly moving, even when they're seated. Those small movements improve well-being and we wanted to encourage them. That's why we developed a chair which swivels and has a tiltable backrest”, explains Ola while he shows a blue example of VIMUND, which is the finished chair's name. He also shows how a few simple turns can adjust the seating and backrest heights as the child grows, meaning the chair can be used for several years – or by different children. And while waiting to reach the floor, they can rest their feet on the footrest.
Children are children, no matter where they grow up
It was not only children on Sweden’s West Coast who tested VIMUND. A few months later, after the chair had been safety-tested and refined further, at a school in China the chair was again tested and evaluated by true professionals. Here it was confirmed that children behave in quite similar ways and have the same needs when they're seated at their desks. Regardless if they're playing computer games, doing school work or drawing, and no matter where in the world they grow up. The Chinese school children pretty much had the same views as the Swedish children. This included feedback about the colors and the seat's softness. ”All children chose a softer seat but we didn't stick to their views entirely. We know that a firmer seat still softens over time and is more durable in the long run”, says Ola. ”Experience is also important when developing a product”.