Our Goal: To Build A Better Rattle

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Children, we read somewhere, are our future. We don’t really know what we think of that, being as most of the children we know are relatively, to put it gently, very dumb. Some don’t even know how to speak. But, in the interest of always keeping our minds open and our fears of this predicted great child uprising assuaged, we found this interesting piece in Businessweek all about designing for the little rug-rats: “Baby Products Meet Smart Design.” In it, the article addresses a number of interesting points, namely the question, “Why does most stuff for babies look stupid?” and then what happened when people became aware of that fact (they say Target held a big sway in that universal “a ha!”). But the main theme to the piece is that this is a huge, huge industry, probably second only to weddings (it states $7 billion), and some of the design shops mentioned, like Mint, are making barrels of cash. Here’s some:

First there’s the Target Effect, which raised consumer expectation — if I can buy a toilet brush I’m proud to display, why can’t I find a good-looking high chair? Then there’s the classic ripple effect: The growing market is causing increased competition.

This, in turn, forces companies to differentiate their products — and turn to design to do so. The result is that industrial designers such as Henderson, and even big-brand technology companies — Philips, Intel, Delphi, among others — are exploring the baby gear market.

And rest easy dear reader. In this article, they never once commit that horrible sin of using “baby” as a plural, as in “Products for baby” or “What does baby really mean when he cries?” If we could have one thing happen before we die, it would be to have that improper useage erradicated.