Mina Panic is the founder and owner of IO Kids Design, a British children's furniture company that specialises in stylish, high quality, multi-functioning pieces – from versatile bunk pods with a handy integrated workstation to a portable seat with generous storage. A mum herself, Mina’s design ethos is for IO Kids products to be versatile, practical and adaptable to the child's ever-changing needs. Furniture is made from laminated Scandinavian plywood and is built to stand the test time, with the view of being modified rather than replaced as the kids grow up.
Featured: Mina Panic, founder of IO Kids Design
What drew you towards creating children’s furniture?
Designing for children is an interesting challenge as the needs of small people can often be very different to those of adults. With children’s products the challenge is a lot to do with how they can stand the test of time in order to get the maximum usage and not just for a short period, whilst at the same time creating eye-catching pieces that are functional and easy to use. My children also played a big part in the reasons for creating the furniture.
Do your own children have any input in the design process?
My children love to be around during the design process, they are always interested in what the next piece might be. They will also always help to improve the functional and ergonomic design aspects and often tend to help in moulding the scale of the pieces.
What made you choose Scandinavian Plywood as your main material?
Some of my favourite designers worked with plywood and I have always thought it was a special material. I remember with great fondness having plywood furniture as a child. For me the very nature of plywood produces a friendly and comforting feeling.
We enjoy working with plywood because of its warmth and resilience and also because it is such a versatile material that is easy to use in different ways such as bending and flexing. Those processes actually enhance the very essence of this material, bringing out its beauty, grain and texture.
Featured: Plywood by IO Kids Design
How important is changeability in your furniture?
The ability to transform is an important aspect of our furniture. If a piece has the ability to change or transform then its longevity can be enhanced which is also important for us.
It is very satisfying to have an object that can be used in different ways and that remains functional year after year and can be eventually passed on to future generations.
What is the creation process for a piece of IO furniture?
The early stages of the design process are usually the most exciting where the pieces begin to develop and evolve in different ways. This may be a response to a particular need or the result of problem solving. Once again my children often inspire ideas aiding the creative process that will lead to sketching through ideas or model making and then developing the technical aspects in detail, this will also be evaluated to assess how pieces can transform or be multifunctional.
We always strive to extend the life of a single piece by adding more uses to it. If we can transform a piece its longevity can be enhanced and therefore improve the sustainability and long term use of the piece. Our doodle box is an example of this, being a mobile storage unit which at the same time can also be used as seating or as an arts and crafts box with an easel.
Do you have any plans to expand your current range?
We are returning to Design Junction this year where we are launching 3 new products. We will also be showing IO Bunk Pod in the new finish which we are very excited about.
Featured: Io Bunk Pod - Yellow
What does good design mean to you?
Good design is not only about the way things look but also very much about how things work or function, the use of materials and interesting ways of using them also plays a role in this. If the design is well considered and can be easily used then this will ensure that the end product will hopefully be around and in use for a long time. Innovation is another important element. Good design should excite and delight.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The creative aspect of the job is the best part, especially the early stages when a lot of research is done. My day is never the same especially when working on something new - every stage is interesting and creative. One of the most rewarding aspects is seeing any of the new pieces for the first time, when the all the hard work on the design comes to fruition.
As Seen on LivingEtc, VogueBambini, MarieClaire Enfants. IO Bunk Pod, available in White and Yellow, An all-in-one space saving place for children to sleep, store and study!
IO Doodle Box: A multifunctional trolley that can generously house a multitude of art and craft materials with its practical removable tray.