Eco-Mum and guest writer Jo Lambert is back, this time with her view on the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair:
We've seen it in all good baby catalogues, designed by Peter Opsvik
for Stokke, the Tripp Trapp chair is striding into dining rooms and
kitchens around the world (closely followed by the cheaper copies). What makes it so successful and so possibly Treehugger?
What makes Stokke Tripp Trapp inherently more sustainable than many of the other options is that the whole concept of the chair is about longevity, ‘Growing with the Child’. It is designed to last as long as possible, adapting in function and dimensions as the child grows. So it goes from small baby highchair, to a raised seat for toddlers, all the way up to an adult-style seat (meaning that you are unlikely to trash the chair once the child is grown up).
You can adjust both the seat and footrest height using the slot system.
For small babies who can sit up strongly on their own, there is a rail and strap to keep them in place, plus seat and back cushions. A Stokke harness can be used too.
For children, the back cushion, rail and strap can be removed and the seat lowered.
For older children and adults the seat and footrest can be adjusted accordingly.How does it compare to other highchairs in usability?
Whereas other highchairs on the market offer more functions, and in some cases to the extreme (toys connected to tray, music, cup holders etc) the Tripp Trapp chair goes for simplicity. It has all the basic elements for a safe and ergonomic seating position for the child, without superfluous details, all in wood or textiles. They also provide a guide for making sure that the ergonomics are right as your child grows.
Other highchair models have the advantage of wipe-clean plastic trays, variable seat tilt position, wheels, etc, but the Stokke chair seems to have also been designed to take into account the context of the family home:
• The space footprint of the Tripp Trapp is small, no more than a normal chair, compared to other highchairs which have large splayed frame legs, which take up loads of space
• The materials blend in and can match the other furniture if you want it to, or if you want it to stand out and have its own character, there are many colour finishes and textiles seat covers to choose from. (In fact during this month –March 2007 – there is an online competition via the stoke website for personalising your own TrippTrapp chair)
• Also the child eats at the table with the adults, so they are part of the social event, not sitting back at a distance from the table - common with highchairs with a tray table.
The Tripp Trapp is made from what they call ‘cultivated beech’, which sounds like the source is controlled at least. The varnish finish, complies with EU safety requirements for children’s furniture, so the safety standards may to a certain extent reflect the low level of toxicity and environmental impact. We’d like to know more about this.
Of course, you pay for quality. Compared to other highchairs it does cost more, but if you consider how long it lasts, and that you are also buying what will be an adults chair as well, the cost is very reasonable.
How does all this make it more sustainable?
• Minimal number of materials (the whole chair is made of wood, metal fixings and textile covers, nothing else)
• Minimal quantity of materials (there are no extra bits!)
• Ergonomic (good for baby)
• Aesthetically pleasing (good for everyone)
• Simplicity (less stuff!)
• Low space footprint (easy to transport and not a daily obstruction)
• Sociability (bringing the child into the social occasion)
How to make it even better?
We think that Tripp Trapp has proved that a sustainable design can be very desirable and successful, but we’d like to add some more small improvements that would make it even better!
• Make it from FSC certified wood, or see if the current source of wood is certifiable.
• Provide the choice to have organic cotton textiles
• Use natural non VOC finishes that also comply with certification for children (Does anyone know if this exists?).