Io Collection

How to Turn Nursery Design into a Radical Act

Some 13 years ago, we were pregnant with our first child and looking to build out our nursery. As is often the case with our work, the impetus to create came from our real lives and particular needs. We asked ourselves what we wanted from this space that we knew would soon dominate our at-home world. We wanted the nursery to be reflective of our particular sensibilities and needs, but none of the cribs at the time were right — most passively stemming from outmoded traditions that simply didn’t resonate with us. With a sense of possibility and intention, we created our own crib and named it after our first daughter, Io.

Today, we celebrate Io’s relaunch by reflecting on some of the principles that brought it to life and continue to inspire us to this day.

Principle 1 / Eco-Design, High Design, and Children’s Design Can Coexist

A core belief at Kalon is the idea that eco-design and high design can — should! — coexist. It’s both an ethos and a call to action, a standard we hold ourselves to and champion every opportunity we have. Within the world of nursery design, we double down on our conviction that designing for life with children need not preclude us from beautiful, conscientious, kid-friendly pieces parents will love and trust.

Io is made from all-natural, sustainably-harvested solid woods, which means no off-gassing. We custom-formulated a finish safe enough for when crib bars inevitably turned into teething bars. Though we were designing a decidedly contemporary crib, we found ourselves enchanted by the forgotten concept of a crib as a family heirloom, passed down through generations. We sought to create a piece that would last, built using the very best materials by the most talented artisans.

When we returned to this design more than a decade later, we looked to a new technology in construction, cross-laminated timber. CLT, as it’s called, is a radical new material with the potential to transform how we build — on both a small scale (such as with Io) and a massive scale (such as with the city of Vienna, which constructed an entire new city quarter out of CLT). CLT is a beautiful, environmentally conscious, kid-friendly material – a functional encapsulation of our design philosophy and intent.

Principle 2 / Pursuing Design that Stimulates

A crib’s relatively small footprint taken alongside the creative potential of this symbolically and developmentally significant object offered us a rich challenge. With a nod to the teachings and sensibilities of Maria Montessori, we aimed to create a stimulating, safe space for children to grow with beyond their nursery years. This directly informed our approach to Io’s proportions and simple convertibility to a 3-walled toddler bed and low-lying toddler bed.

We also considered that babies are most drawn to contrast as they begin to take in the world around them. With so much of those first years spent looking out from the confines of their crib, we wanted to create a striking form that would bring to life the space around it. With this in mind, we imagined the crib as a universe unto itself that would activate and engage a child’s eyes and stimulate their imagination.

Principle 3 / Seeking Out a World of Inspiration

We also wanted the crib to look nice in our home — to feel less like a compromise or a departure, and more like an extension and evolution. We looked at the ubiquitous crib designs with a sense of bemusement and wondered why a crib should look like a little jail cell, why the insistence on pastels.

In many ways, we credit the style of Io to the fact that we felt no attachment to the traditions of nursery design. Instead, as we began to design, we looked to the ornate geometry of Moroccan wood screens and Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass panels. Both bring functionality in alignment with aesthetic beauty and actively experiment with light and space. The patterned cutouts are not only aesthetically striking, but in fact ideal for a baby’s crib, allowing for visibility of both the outside world and the interior of the structure.