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Juvenile furniture grows up.


An estimated 4.2 million babies were born in the United States last year, the highest number since 1964, the end of the Baby Boom era. It is not surprising then to hear from Maura Davis of the Juvenile Products Manufacturer's Assn. that "the market for infant and juvenile furniture is growing leaps and bounds."

According to JPMA estimates, cribs alone accounted for $300 million in sales in 1990; dressing tables, $32 million; tables and chairs, $28 million. Sales of children's wood furniture are expected to top $400 million in 1991.

JPMA annually sponsors what is considered to be the world's premiere juvenile (infant to age 5) product show at the Dallas Market Center. This year's event will be held Oct. 8-11, with 300 exhibitors expected. (For information, phone (609) 985-2878.)

Also noteworthy is the association's safety certification program which is open to all manufacturers. Consumers chewing on furniture does not worry most furniture makers, but it is a serious consideration for the crib manufacturer, as are side latches. mattress support systems, corner post extensions and impact testing of the crib side rail. Each product category has its own safety requirements.

Manufacturers test their products quarterly and submit results to an independent testing laboratory retained by JPMA. The lab retests products annually to ensure American Society of Testing Materials standards are met and issues a consumer directory of certified products twice annually.

Youth-teen market growing

The JPMA has conducted annual surveys of its members since 1986. The surveys define furniture as juvenile if a crib is part of the format, and as youth furniture when youth beds, bunk beds or trundle beds are included. "It is not a purely scientific study," Davis said. "How manufacturers quality their lines is very subjective. Their use of categories may simply be a marketing tool."

However, more manufacturers are apparently diversifying and getting into the youth-teen category, Davis said. For 1986, manufacturers reported a total $3 million sales in beds for this age bracket. Total bed sales for 1990 more than tripled to over $10 million. Sales of case goods in both juvenile and youth groups have increased yearly from $92 million in 1986 to 1990's $120 million, with the biggest gain (12 percent) in 1988.

In April, heavyweight manufacturers Pennsylvania House and Thomasville Furniture entered the competition. Pennsylvania House introduced 77 pieces in three collections aimed at the youth-teen market. Thomasville came out with five collections, three of which are extensions of regular lines: Affinity, Commentary and Solitaire. Correlates such as desks, chairs and computer desks, and smaller scale dressers distinguish Thomasville's youth groups from its regular lines.

Styles in young people's furniture are taking a traditional turn, Davis said, reflecting what is happening in adult furniture. "We expect to see more classics at the fall market."

Furniture to grow with

Larry Peabody, FASID, is a designer for ETC - Environmental Teen Concepts - which is a division of Child Craft, the world's largest manufacturer of cribs and infant furniture. He said the youth market is not confined to one age group. "We are producing functional pieces that work forever. Designs are on a scale that works as children grow up. They can move the pieces into their college dorm or their first apartment. This is not furniture for |the moment.'"

Peabody's philosophy is that "natural things make the best background for living." In his Sikka collection introduced last year, Peabody used natural rattan and maple for beds and case goods.

Peabody's new Popsicles collection repeats the use of natural maple with the addition of optional bright colors on the panels of head and footboard. Each panel is shaped like a popsicle stick and can be ordered in terra cotta red, taxicab yellow or brilliant turquoise. A bullnosed desk has a child-proof melamine top and spill-proof drawers of solid maple.

Also new from ETC are contemporary FreeStyle, in pure white with red or blue defining the spindle post corners of each piece, and Cubics, designed by SnyderBrezny and featuring a casual look in oak solids and veneers in three finishes.

New to the youth market

Pennsylvania House has incorporated many of its quality standards into Penn Pals, its new youth furniture series introduced at High Point in April. Drawers are constructed with solid oak sides and backs, wood-on-wood guides and no-tilt feature. Wrap items have laminate tops and bed rails are seven-ply matching veneer.

Three groupings are offered in Penn Pals. A four-poster bed highlights a formal, traditional cherry collection. Panel beds and headboards, optional trundle beds and a canopy frame for the poster bed are available. Also included are a 56-inch dresser, three chest sizes, a vanity dresser with mirror, corner storage unit, nightstand, desks, chairs and vanity bench.

A pine sleigh bed with optional trundle panel is the focal point of a country collection in a whitewashed finish, designed for a girl's room. Specifically for boys is an oak group in a warm brown finish. Pieces in this collection include mirror, dresser, storage units, desk, computer stand, bookcase and nightstand.


Geoffrey Jackson, president of Vermont Precision Woodworks, said, "We like to keep our youth furniture generic. By making a style strictly for one sex, you exclude half of the population - and half of the sales, too." The company offers a complete line of solid rock maple furniture which includes two bunk beds, five twin bed styles, desks, hutches, three-to-five drawer dressers, wardrobes and armoires.

Consumers usually buy white for girls but natural maple represents 80 percent of his sales, Jackson said, and white only 12 percent. "Our furniture is hand-assembled," he added. "We use metal runners with nylon rollers for drawers that pull out with a fingertip."

Stanley's Escapades

Stanley Furniture's newest introduction to its Young America Series is Escapades, a casual contemporary bedroom collection designed to appeal to a broad age group of boys to young adults. In addition to twin, bunk and bookcase bed options are storage and trundle units, a student desk and computer station.

Escapades is made of oak solids and veneers with high pressure laminate tops on all case pieces. Distinctive planked wood drawer fronts are framed in heavy oak mouldings. Hardware combines wood and brass.

Tubular furniture takes a new direction

Amisco, a Canadian manufacturer of tubular steel residential furniture, offers a ready-to-assemble package of juvenile bedroom furniture. Mecano, an eight-piece collection, includes bunk or twin beds, five-drawer dresser in MDF with invisible drawer pulls and beveled edges, an adjustable "Moon Walker" chair and a drawing board with melamine work surface.

Safety standards are exceeded by the use of double guard rails, close-set mattress slats and fixed bunk ladders. Electrostatically-applied epoxy polyester powder finishes are lead-free and virtually chip-proof and offered in primary colors and white.

PHOTO : The bureau and hutch from Stanley, combines planked drawer fronts with heavy oak moulding.

PHOTO : A whitewashed pine sleigh bed, vanity dresser and mirror for a girl's room are part of Pennsylvania House's new Penn Pals youth series.

PHOTO : This eight-piece bedroom set can be taken home in boxes in an average hatchback car and children can help to assemble it, according to Amisco, the manufacturer.

PHOTO : Wood cribs like this Child Crafts Park Forest model represents the lion's share of the juvenile market with $300 million in sales.

PHOTO : Gautier USA's furniture for the youth market is made in France. Carcasses and tops are finished in textured matte polyester lacquer.

PHOTO : Vermont Precision Woodworks' Killington twin bed has 2 1/2-inch corner posts. It is shown with a three-drawer chest, corner table, chair and desk with lighted hutch.

PHOTO : a twin cherry poster bed is a focal point of Pennsylvania House's Penn Pals. "Bottoms Up" chair, was designed by Joseph Calomino for Child Craft. Popsicles from ETC comes with fanciful colored panels or all natural maple. The group was designed by Larry Peabody.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Garet, Barbara
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jul 1, 1991
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