For our special April in Paris issue of Designer Monthly, we thought we'd see what Paris designers are doing with kids' furnishings. The French have a reputation for treating their kids a little differently than Americans do; in many families, they don't dine en famille, for example; rather, the kids have an early supper, and then the parents dine more elegantly at nine or so, after les enfants are safely in bed.
Weekends make up for what we might see as a lack of family time during the week, with families making outings together to the local parks, beaches, or museums. There's more emphasis on leisurely time together on le weekend, with fewer activities just for the kids, such as soccer practice and playdates.
Some argue that this tendency helps keep marriages together — with nightly adult-only dinner conversation, the parents can maintain their relationship, rather than having every mealtime conversation devolve into arguments over who got more escargots or petite fours.
But then again, France also provides free day care, so it's a whole different situation over there.
We do know that in terms of decorating the kids' rooms, we like what we see. We visited the site of one of Paris' preeminent children's furnishings stores, Anders.
Starting with baby's first bed, Anders offers designs that are clever, unique, and modern. The "Crib Angel des Montagnes" gives the newborn a sense of style when first arriving home, without taking up precious space. It can easily fit into the parents' bedroom if necessary, or it can be coordinated with other furnishings to imbibe baby with a good design sense right off the bat.
The company offers a variety of cribs for older babies, but the one we liked best was this ultra-modern model, with matching armoire and dresser/changing table. This is a design that baby can grow with, as she further develops her preferences for modern colors and shapes.
When it comes to kids' beds, Anders offers everything from more traditional, simple beds to the truly imaginative,
including bunk beds with storage and "mezzanine" beds that allow the child to sleep as if in a bunk (reaching the bed
via a ladder) but allow room below for furniture or playspace.
For the little one dreaming of a treehouse, there is a bed in a "cabane" style, allowing the child to imagine she's rifting off to dreamland under a canopy of treetops.
Anders' children's line doesn't begin and end with beds, however. They also offer wardrobes, chests, desks, and more. Their colors are often bright, and the designs show a real creativity, but they are also just as much fun for adults as for les enfants.