Tuesday, 1:49pm
16 March 2010

Are you sitting comfortably?

sally jeffery
Design history

70 different ways to get children to

Sit Down at the Museum of Childhood

Left to themselves, children settling down with a book will almost always drape, wedge, lean, sprawl or up-end themselves, rather than sit nicely on chairs, writes Sally Jeffery. Sit Down is a record of several centuries’ worth of attempted interventions in this unruliness, via means which include trundling about on wheels, free-form lounging, and undisguised restraint.


It’s been argued that children have to fling themselves about all day for their proper physical and cognitive development. Mico, a sort-of-chair by El Ultimo Grito, would let them do that (top). The Gerrit Rietveld high chair looks as if it might too, but with a high risk of fractures (above). At the other extreme, miniature upholstered armchairs for children can be slightly disturbing, like finding a set of infant dentures. But in a photograph accompanying one exhibit, a child ensconced crosswise on a yellow armchair shows why it’s just not a problem (below).



The exhibition, designed by architects Wells Mackereth, includes interesting commentary written on the walls in big writing (above), helpful if your reading skills are at an early stage.

> 5 September 2010
Sit Down: Seating for Kids
V&A Museum of Childhood
Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9PA


Eye, the international review of graphic design, is a quarterly journal you can read like a magazine and collect like a book. It’s available from all good design bookshops and at the online Eye shop, where you can order subscriptions, single issues and classic collections of themed back issues.