Until now, the beloved Stokke Kinderzeat has endured a split personality disorder. In the United States, it is known as the Kinderzeat, but in practically every other country on Earth, it is the Tripp Trapp chair. Why did the US market require new nomenclature? I’m not sure what the logic was at the time, but in the interest of consistency, Stokke USA has now discontinued the Kinderzeat, and is introducing the Tripp Trapp in its place. Which is sort of like replacing a frankfurter with a hot dog. Not much has changed structurally. The design is exactly the same, except there’s a very significant new innovation – the new Tripp Trapp chair includes a 5-point harness, and can safely accommodate babies as young as 6 months.
This is a major development, since the Kinderzeat was for 18 months and up, meaning that parents first invested in a high chair, and later purchased the Kinderzeat. Over the past few years, the Kinderzeat has encountered new competition from wooden chairs that could accommodate infants, then, like the Kinderzeat, be adapted for toddlers, children and adults. So it was a smart move for Stokke to make this adjustment.
In addition to the 5-point harness, Stokke has also made a very sturdy plastic rail that attaches onto the chair, for added support. This is an optional accessory, and is not required for use with infants. We asked Stokke about plans to make a tray attachment, and we didn’t get a definite answer. Although parents would like to see it, the idea runs counter to the philosophy behind the design of the chair – that children should be sitting comfortably at the table with the rest of the family right from the start.
At the end of February, we were very lucky to be invited to New York City for a sneak preview of the new Tripp Trapp chair, and to hear the designer, Peter Opsvik, speak about the evolution of the design. It was very interesting to hear about his thought process and see some of his early sketches.
Peter talked a lot about the history of mankind and the evolution of eating, from hunters & gatherers to fast-food junkies. He noted that humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time. This is something we are taught to do from childhood, in deference to the realities of modern society. Most kids struggle with sitting still, which frustrates parents and teachers, but in reality, it’s completely natural for kids to want to get up and go. The Tripp Trapp was designed to allow for several different ergonomic seating positions, and to encourage children to climb up and down independently. So now even the littlest eaters can do what comes naturally. And hopefully refrain from pulling the tablecloth (and everything on it) off the table. I wonder if they use tablecloths in Norway.