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LEARNING THROUGH PLAY

by Mavis Wong on Sep 10, 2012 in Products
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This series of furniture is not just adorable and fun, but serves as an educational tool for little ones as well

Children are like sponges – they absorb everything, pick things up quickly and adapt to the environment in the blink of an eye. Dedicated to this ‘learning through environment’ approach is Silvia Marlia, a Hong Kong-based Italian designer who founded Sand to create furniture pieces especially for kids – to help them learn through play and become independent via their living environment.

Introduced by eco-chic furniture store TREE, the Sand collection – wardrobes, cabinets, beds, tables, chairs and accessories – combines educational purposes with minimalistic design, functionality, playfulness and natural materials. At its recent launch, Marlia talked to Perspective about her collection.
 
Why did you name the brand ‘Sand’?
Sand is a brand for children from ages three and up. It represents a special moment in a child’s life when they are not yet defined: they are still evolving, adjusting and adapting to the world around them. They can change shape just like sand!
 
Tell us your source of inspiration.
I was partly inspired by what I wished for as a kid. Then, it’s my passion and my work – I’ve studied in a non-traditional educational system. I was a student in a Rudolf Steiner school as a kid; I returned to study Steiner’s philosophy as an adult, and as a mother of two, I studied the Montessori school system and trained to be an assistant teacher. By combining all of these – what I dream, what I’m passionate about and what I’ve studied – I created this collection.
 
So the collection is all about educating toddlers?
Sand was designed to provide the right tools to encourage children to learn through play and to help refine their motor skills. Sand products help children become more independent: to find objects that they need, to put them away after they are finished, and to take care of their belongings.
 
Your collection looks very natural with the wood and a hint of colour. Why such a palette?
I opted for a matt paint to give the kids a calm environment which is not over-stimulating – children these days are over-stimulated. I wanted to have matte finishes that can absorb the light, but not reflect it.
 
The wardrobe looks interesting with the wheels…
It is actually inspired by the classic traveller’s trunk from the turn of the century. It’s a metaphor for children, as their life journey has just begun – they need their ‘travelling trunk’ to go around. They can move it around their room, take control of their own space and be creative with spatial arrangements.
 
What do little ones learn via this piece of furniture?
They’re supposed to take care of their belongings by themselves. They can hang their clothes – it’s not easy for them, but it’s something they can do, especially through practice. So the purpose is to let them learn to be independent in the right environment: everything is scaled specifically for their size.
 
So proportion is key?
Yes. It’s my philosophy that we should treat the children as ‘young humans’, rather than ‘incomplete adults’. We need to give them the right tools – the tools that we adults use – with the proportion adjusted to let them adapt to and learn from the environment. Everything is designed from their eye level. If you look at the collection at that height, you’ll see the right proportion, shape and design details.
 
Tell us about the fun accessories.
The Books on Wheels is a reinterpretation of the classic library cart. Kids love to test their strength, so the idea is to let them keep their books in order and roll the cart to their parents, getting ready for the story time. The Tool Box, meanwhile, help improve their motor skills while allowing them to learn to take care of their stuff and be responsible.

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