7W Delivers New Baby & Kids Fair

By danielle

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Last week, 7W launched a brand new fair showcasing the best in baby and kids fashion accessories, furnishings, gifts, textiles and more.  Called NYC Baby & Kids Fair it was held concurrently with the Gift and Home Textiles Market Week. A small sampling of product highlights include: colorful, design-forward baby gear from Boon, Inc.; master-crafted cribs, cradles, and baby furniture by Bratt Décor; luxurious baby bed linens and textiles of Aviva Stanoff Designs; adorable, super absorbent bibs from Mum2Mum; floral and festive home décor and lighting of the Jubilee Collection; exquisite Persian carpets; delightful children’s gifts from Renditions by Reesa; handcrafted frames, wall art and lamps from Smile for the Birdie; and a comprehensive children’s gift emporium from Stephan Baby.

In addition to new arrivals, there were some equally exciting seminars including “Out of the Mouth of Babe’s Moms”.  We had an opportunity to talk to two of the panelists: Dania Ahmad, mom of an 18-month-old daughter and account director at Novità Communications and Katherine Nelson, former A&D editor at Metropolitan Home, mom of one with one on the way; after the session and ask them some questions of our own.

Design-Calendar: Childish baby rooms are a thing of the past.  How have you infused your child’s room with products that are both design-driven and child-friendly? What companies do you feel stand out in these two categories?

Dania: The idea behind the overall design was to create a space that she would not outgrow for at least a few years.  We started with the colors.  We stayed away from all the traditional pastels and went for bright orange and green.  We selected furniture from a Brooklyn-based company we love, Argington.  It’s modern, clean and simple and will last for a few years.  It’s at a child’s scale, but it’s anything but babyish. The artwork we’ve chosen is whimsical and fun but again, not necessarily for a baby.  We always joke that she has fancier artwork than we do.

Katherine: Actually we put our baby in our sitting room so I don’t have a nursery exactly—we kept all the furniture from the sitting room—Mies-type sofa, gray walls, large mirror, etc so it is very grown up! A David Netto cub crib was the perfect match and we were ready to go.

Design-Calendar: How has the Internet changed parenting (ie rise of internet shopping, mommy-blogs)?

Dania: Based on comments by my mom and grandmother, the Internet has been completely game-changing.  While I certainly get special things and gifts at some favorite local shops and boutiques, I did my baby registry online.  I also order the monthly basics (diapers, wipes, etc.) online.  The convenience of having the bulky, heavy items come right to my door is wonderful.  I used to read the mommy blogs religiously when she was an infant, and knowing that others were having similarly harrowing experiences was very comforting.  Now that’s she’s a toddler I still read my Babycenter weekly e-mails, but in general I enjoy the magazines I get in the mail more than the blogs.  That said, I do very much rely on online peer reviews of products I’m considering purchasing.

Katherine: We relied heavily on Internet shopping for the registry and found it extremely helpful for family and friends living at a distance. I was overwhelmed about having a baby and also found the edited selection and easy navigation more friendly than if I were going into a brick-and-mortar store. As Dania says, having regular baby supplies delivered to the door is really fabulous considering everything else that you have to tackle. I do have some concern about wasting fossil fuel with that diapers.com order (I feel the same way about fresh direct). On the other hand, it is a real challenge to lug a huge box of diapers, etc, back on the subway with the baby, stroller, etc, in tow. Sometimes you have to be kind to yourself!

Design-Calendar: How has the green revolution affected your purchasing decisions?

Dania: It’s had a big effect.  I wish I could say that I’ve gone 100% green, but it’s probably closer to 50%. In general our policy has been to be responsible and conscious of the environment and our health all the time.  When it comes to our purchases it usually comes down to what’s practical and affordable.  We chose low and no VOC paints for the apartment and whenever possible we chose furniture that was green.  Our daughter’s furniture is made sustainably and all her eating/drinking utensils are BPA-free.  Our cleaning products are non-toxic and we use paper goods made from recycled paper.  Most importantly, we are trying to lead by example and instill in her an appreciation for nature and the earth.

Katherine: For me, I love the fact that manufacturers are becoming more transparent about where the materials come from, what kind of finishes they are using and where items are sourced. I try to be careful about understanding what is in everything i buy for the baby (and for her family too.) As I said during the presentation, it’s important to not be a green Nazi about it. I don’t need her wearing hemp diapers and eating only soy products. But for us being green is being as educated as possible about our buying decisions and supporting companies that we feel are moving in the right direction in terms of environmentally friendly practices.

Design-Calendar: Since you are both very connected to the design industry, do you notice more manufacturers of children’s products at design fairs such as ICFF, Dwell on Design, etc?  Where do you see the industry going?

Katherine: There is a ton of activity in the children’s industry and I think that’s great. From speaking with manufacturers, I know that it is one industry that has been strong with consumers despite the recession. I especially love the fact that there are more green options to choose from every year. For me, I do see a lot of activity in certain areas and absolutely no activity in others. There are lots of well-designed options in furniture and strollers for example but very few in activity mats, Excersaucers, Pack-n-Plays etc. I wish I saw some great design-minds tackling those areas that I see as being ignored.

Dania: YES!  I’ve definitely seen an increase in children’s furniture at trade shows.  The nice thing is, for the most part it’s thoughtful and design-forward.  I think “green” is here to stay, and the designers know that if there’s one room a parent is going to want sustainable, non-toxic furniture it’s going to be the nursery.   I’ve also seen a lot of innovative, multi-purpose and space-saving pieces.

Katherine Nelson, Su Hilty and Dania Ahmad

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