For many families, investing in children’s furnishings is low on the list of priorities. While the merits of cribs, change tables and prams are often hotly discussed during pregnancy, once the baby becomes a toddler, often he is expected to somehow fit into adult furnishings. Yet from toddler to teen are the years that a child comes into his own, becoming the person that will shape his future endeavours.
Nicole Wakley started a children’s collection of furnishings five years ago at TREE, a Hong Kong-based furniture and lifestyle company she founded a decade ago. The former lawyer has two young boys of her own, and felt that it was important to keep them active through unique pieces that inspire learning.
“Most of our furniture is made in Indonesia and many of our signature teak collections use reclaimed wood,” says Kate Babington, TREE’s Managing Director. “Other collections are made from solid teak, oak and walnut from sustainably sources or FSC certified forests.” TREE’s furniture is predominantly made from Indonesian teak, European oak and American walnut.
“TREE’s ethos of clean, contemporary and eco furniture is transferred to our kids’ collection,” notes Babington. “There is colour but with an earthiness to the pieces. They are not gender specific. The collection is inspired by the Montessori teaching method focused on learning through play, and it should become something they grow up with. Importantly, we use non-solvent paint and ensure that edges have no sharp corners.”
A walk around TREE’s Ap Lei Chau flagship showroom reveals a number of new items including Simply City, a ladder-inspired series of desks, shelves and storage that maximises a room’s potential. Meanwhile, Pure single bed comes with storage crates on heavy duty casters to easily wheel them out of sight under the bed. Ferum, a line of furnishings that are made from disused Indonesian boats, offers desks, storage and crates that will take the heavy wear and tear by active young children. One of the newer ranges is its Please and Thank You collection of tables and chairs that resemble school furnishings. Chairs offer flat seats to accommodate kids who prefer to sit on the ground and use the seating as a surface.
“It’s sturdy, multi-functional and easy to move around,” says Babington. “And it’s modular to make them suitable for small spaces such as apartments in Hong Kong. We find that kids like having ‘grown up furniture’ in
Along with its Horizon Plaza store and branches on Soho’s Elgin Street and Sai Kung, TREE opened its first boutique in China’s capital Beijing in March. Situated in the Sanlitun area, it is a shop that centres on its café. “Eco friendly wood is becoming increasingly important to mainland Chinese customers,” says Babington.
Aside from its retail arm, TREE works with local interior designers and developers such as Kerry Properties, most recently with the latter on showflats for its Dragons Range development in Shatin. Kerry is working with TREE to plant 973 trees in Indonesia to raise awareness of green living. “It’s been a perfect synergy between an eco-minded development and sophisticated, sustainable home style.” says Babington.