Welcome to the Kids' Corner!
Hello. Welcome. I always hoped that as many kids as adults would find this site – either from hearing about it from someone or from having actually seen one of the cottages set up at a craft show. Whether or not your family buys any of these furniture pieces or maybe some science equipment, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look around in the photos and videos. Everything I design and build is a bit unusual. Besides a lot of artwork – carvings and paintings, etc. – there are playful aspects and lots of secret spaces.
I’ll give you the short version of my bio and Kinder Realm’s vision because it takes a little explaining to help you to grasp that this is not just furniture.
I've been creating artworks and building furniture since I was 18 years old. I became a teacher around 30 and had classrooms in a few Mountain towns around Colorado over the next 25 years. Administrators often considered me a ‘fringe’ teacher in that I liked to have my students do some actual building in addition to the usual academics. It’s called “experiential” learning. One year I had each of my third graders turn a spindle on my lathe to make a railing around the loft platform I’d built during the summer to get more room in a cramped classroom … with a high ceiling. I took my bandsaw to school several times to cut parts for ‘chain-reaction projects’ that sometimes went all through the classroom space.
I stopped teaching in 2007 and began designing and building this wild Kinder Realm project to try to bring some real elegance to the world of kids. I always thought we adults were making a big mistake in saving all the finest things for our grown-up years. “Kids will wreck it” is what I hear a lot, but after watching hundreds of kids play inside a cottage or go exploring for the hidden compartment in the dresser, for instance, I don’t believe it. Kids generally feel a bit overwhelmed when they are inside a cottage and, I think, realize it’s worth taking care of.
I've tried to build a space that helps you to feel really comfortable and at the same time, brings a sense of adventure into your lives. It's your own kingdom to set up however you like. It’s all centered around a cottage with a loft you climb a ladder to. The whole cottage is filled with unusual furniture and beautiful artwork. There are many ways to use the cottage: it’s a place to study - a quiet spot when it’s needed; it’s a place to have your friends come to play; it’s a place to just sit and relax, to read a book - maybe write one; it’s a place to design and build some marvels of your own.
All the furniture has unusual features and several pieces can transform for different purposes. For a few examples, the base cabinets for the desk can sit back to back and become a shelf unit; the loft sofa can fold down to become a bed. Also, the lighting around the ceiling and in the top section of the corner cabinet is dimmable. You can change the whole mood of the space just by turning the lights low. It’s especially interesting to see your ‘treasures’ on the shelves of the lighted corner cabinet - being lit from two sides. You can also turn the lights up high and have plenty for studying or maybe putting on a performance.
I’m hoping you take time to figure out how all the working mechanisms, the hidden compartments, the locking drawers, etc. function. There are springs and levers and wheels that add a little complexity to this realm.
The science apparatuses are to let you experiment with the basic forces of nature – gravity, centrifugal force, sunlight, etc. There are wooden measuring tools and motor driven equipment for you to turn your home into a science lab. Grow plants, build mechanisms, measure centrifugal (spinning) force, experiment with balance, etc. These “simple machines” are the basics of every more complex machine. I’ve also designed some formal games to challenge your friends with hand-eye coordination while you learn the fundamentals of motion and weight. I’m hoping you will have lots of fun but also that you will pay attention to how things function and use what you learn to experiment and create challenges and games of your own.
One big purpose behind this project is in wanting to have a place for your friends to meet - to use the cottage as a clubhouse. The theater window even gives the brave ones among you a place to show off. It works great for puppets or for singing performances. I’ve even made a white screen to fit the window opening so you can put a spotlight behind and do shadow plays.
I need to resort to being a teacher again to say that Kinder Realm has also been designed to help you learn to be organized. I’ve built dozens of spaces of all different sizes to store your treasures and supplies - some completely secret unless you know the trick
Maybe more than anything else, I’ve tried to design a place where both science and fantasy are equally welcome. Kinder Realm has been created as a place for your imaginations to unleash - a space that inspires you to believe in adventure. I've designed much of Kinder Realm around my great love of epic fantasy: stories of hobbits and wizards, of braving great mountain ranges or deep caves … Delving into my and other people’s imaginations helps me to see that life offers us unlimited fields of wonder and magic to explore. Imagination is often a first step in bringing new marvels into the world.
Well, there you have a quick look at me and this wild project. It’s simply a complex realm of natural beauty and great paradox (bet you have to look that one up!) In my mind, the most important reason behind Kinder Realm is to give you some incentive to take off on an adventure of your own.