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Style at play

October 09, 2003|Adamo DiGregorio and David A. Keeps | Special to The Times

When it comes to kids' rooms, many parents keep things cheap and cheerful. They look for furnishings that are easy to clean and hard to destroy, as soft and round as a Muppet's cheeks. The very notion of heirloom items -- be it the chair Grandpa built or a table you hope to pass down to your grandchildren -- seems as quaint as bronzed baby shoes.

Living with youngsters? You don't have to turn your home into peewee's playhouse. The rediscovery of kid-friendly mid-century classics -- from the Eames Hang-It-All coat rack with its colorful wooden balls to Verner Panton's curvy plastic chairs (available at Jules Seltzer in Los Angeles) -- has inspired architects and designers to create sophisticated small-scale furnishings.

In connection with the Friends of the Schindler House/MAK Center for Art and Architecture, the Marmol Radziner firm is replicating pieces from Rudolf Schindler's 1922 Kings Road residence. The line includes a Cubist child's chair handmade from California redwood. Marmol Radziner Furniture also produces the hefty solid-maple Asher's table and stools, created for and named after Ron Radziner's son.

Artist and architect Gregg Fleishman builds furniture, geodesic playground sets and geometric construction sets for children and adults that are as visually dramatic as they are practical. His intricately routed chairs made from a single piece of birch plywood are masterpieces of engineering and craftsmanship. The curvaceous one-piece child's chair has a Chinese silhouette and a sci-fi appeal with ergonomic design that is durable yet flexible -- they're as much fun to bounce on as a bed.

For rough-housers, Boom's plastic ball chair, available at Yolk in Silver Lake, is virtually indestructible. Riders can kick up their heels on the Caballo, a rocking horse designed by Yolk owner Melanie Miller that is so shapely it could pass for modern sculpture in the living room.

If your little darlings are scribblers, give them a timeout they can truly appreciate. Sit them down on an Alvar Aalto-inspired stool (shown on Page 1) from Furthur Kids or bent plywood chairs at a table topped by a synthetic slate, and let them learn the concept of time by filling in the numbers on a clock that can also be written on with chalk.

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