Bunk beds can seem magical to kids. From being one of the smallest in the family, you're elevated to where you can see everything completely differently. Sitting up high, you might even be able to peer down at your parents or siblings. It's hard not to feel like you're in a nest, or a ship, or the tower of a castle.
Of course from a parent's point of view you're probably thinking about fitting two siblings in a room, or perhaps an extra bed so friends can sleep over. In either case, bunk beds are a clever way to make the most of children's sleeping spaces. With the new TUFFING bunk bed and loft bed, designed to be affordable and fit in smaller spaces, both parents and kids get a practical and slightly magical piece of furniture.
Let's face it, when kids are in the middle of an activity the last thing they're probably thinking is 'is this safe?'. Because of this our children's beds undergo some of the most rigorous testing it's possible to do on furniture. There are strict industry safety standards to start off with, but for the TUFFING design team this was just the beginning. TUFFING product development engineer Olaf Szukalowicz explains the journey. "First of all we looked at global data covering all types of accidents that have involved bunk beds. Then we worked with the design and especially all the gaps and openings to stop these from happening again."
Next the team had to make sure the bunk beds could hold up to everything they could throw at them. "After that we tested the durablity to make sure all the parts are really tough. We do that with two weeks of vigorous strength testing where the structure is pushed and stretched to constant extreme forces," Olaf says. Or, for the more science minded, the beds are shaken at 300 newton for over 10,000 cycles to test for any weaknesses. Afterwards came a slightly more unorthodox (but very practical) test. "I also climbed on top of the bed and jumped on it without the mattress. I'm 165 lbs. so I was happy that it held up fine for me!"
Of course no test for a child's bed is complete without looking at the product from a child's perspective. Throughout the design process the team worked with research from child and adolescent psychotherapist Dr Barbie Clarke. Dr Clarke explains the role of the bed in children's rooms. "The bed is something that children can say, 'this is mine, my space'. Even if they are sharing a lot of other things, the bed is often a private area that helps them work out who they are, rest and recharge. When we do global research the children we interview will often say that their bed is the favorite part of their home."
Building on the research, the next stage naturally enough was to ask kids for their feedback. Deputy Range Manager Nina Hughes at Children's IKEA explains: "We're lucky enough to have an international school here, so we were able to bring in groups of kids from different parts of the world. Then we'd ask them things like, 'How does it feel to climb the ladder?' 'How do you feel about the height?' or 'Do the guard rails help you feel safe?'" With the kids' feedback (keep the orange bedposts and make the guard rails higher on the loft bed) and tick of approval, the design process was complete. The best part might be that even if TUFFING is soon reimagined into a castle or a nest, it'll be a safe one.