Never Too EarlyTREE aims to train ’em young with a new line of kids’ furnishings

Children learn by example. That’s a well-documented fact and the reason many a parent sends the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house when they host a dinner party. If you must smoke and drink, do it out of eyeshot of the little ones. By the same token, kids learn good, if perhaps less fun, behaviours from parents as well. Make recycling and respect for animals de rigueur and children are likely to pick up those habits. Sustainable furnishings manufacturer TREE is hoping that eco-decor can follow the same path.

After six years in the market, TREE has positioned itself as among the most responsible furniture producers in Hong Kong. Founder Nicole Wakley saw a hole in the marketplace and set out to fill it. Consumer response has been strong, and an even better indicator of the company’s success can be found in the number of similar retailers that have sprung up since. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. That TREE is making space for the entire family shouldn’t come as a surprise: the flagship store in Horizon Plaza is extremely family-friendly, and Wakley has extended sustainable practices to include staff benefits and respectable working hours. As Wakley sees it, “For us to be sustainable we had to make the effort on every level.” Source materials to manufacturing processes to in-store products and services are all as sustainable as possible at the moment. “What we’re trying to do is make a small change going forward. We’re not perfect, but our ethos is sincere.”

So on to eco-children. With the rest of the house under control, the time has come to break into the kids’ rooms. “We’ve considered the concept carefully, little fingers, little toes,” points out Kate Babington, TREE’s managing director, and part of that concept emphasises adaptability and space saving. Beds are configured as either bunk or trundle beds with storage underneath. Desks and worktables feature wheels and partnered storage options. Standalone storage units and chairs are companions to the full sized units, just scaled down for smaller bodies and rooms. Also ready for the younger set are Lloyd Loom Pookie Chairs and a variety of limited edition hand-woven, Hong Kong-themed rugs — because playing Lego on hardwood is agony on the backside.

The new children’s line is suitable for all, “from toddler to ’tween,” as Babington puts it, and there’s a choice of materials: the signature Pure collection, made from Forest Stewardship Council woods; the colourful limited Ferum line manufactured from old and abandoned Indonesian fishing boats; and the latest rage in “upcycling,” the beanbag chairs, stools and pouffes made from used denim. Notably, most of those items have retained the pockets, making for ultra-convenient storage of such necessities as iPods, iPhones, television remote control boxes and video game accessories. There are a raft of more troubling items your son or daughter may eventually wind up stashing in seat nooks, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. They grow up fast enough as it is.