what is small?

small seeks to challenge the idea that children are somehow incompatible with professional life and that they are simply an interuption to our creativity.  children should not be feared for and feared, but become part of our everyday and working lives.


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rca children’s centre: free poster now available!

By popular demand following the great success of the RCA children’s centre at department 21, the poster is now to be made publicly available. just download here.

Lo res version


Hi res version


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last chance today to see designing (for) the socialist child, a small expo at the rca

a SMALL expo on children and design for children in east germany.

on the deck, hosted by department 21 in the interior courtyard, at show 2, RCA kensington.

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transforming the ordinary into the magical – a gift of childhood

When my daughter Anna was born I suddenly found myself with time on my hands, and an enormous need for creative expression. I would take Anna for walks in a pushchair in the park, and rather than talking to the other mothers, I preferred walking alone, literally writing stories in my head. It was also around this time when my night’s sleep became full of the most vivid and amazing dreams. I realized that these dreams, often involving lone journeys through deserted streets and landscapes, came into being as a compensation for the temporary “shrinking” of the external world (my movement curtailed due to having a young child).

I found a freedom in the interior landscape, which I wanted to share with others, especially children, who are so familiar with it. And so I collected the various short stories that I wrote up in my head during days’ mundane activities, and weaved a narrative around them, centered around a little girl called Violet, who passes through two worlds: the world of external reality, and the world of dreams, and who seeks a way of bringing these together. I illustrated the book myself, incorporating leaf, flower and other natural textures. The book is also a homage to my grandmother, because it was she who instilled in me the love of storytelling.

Ispent years of my childhood wondering the hill of Petrin in the city of Prague with her every day after school, while she made a story of anything at hand, intertwining local legends, amazing family histories, personal experience, gossip, films that she watched the night before on TV, infusing these with her own vivid flair for poetic exaggeration, bringing out strange connections and synchronicities. The ordinary was transformed into magical and it is this gift of childhood, the celebration of the imagination, which I believe needs to be nurtured and protected, in children but also adults.

Tereza Stehlikova/ Animation PhD

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dont miss SMALL TALK at department 21!

let's make the RCA world class for parents too!

Thursday 1st July at Show 2 at the Royal College of Art

12pm PhD student and mother Jessica Jenkins hosts SMALL TALK, a session dedicated to thinking creatively about how children, design and research can meet successfully. With guests, architect Heather Peak, painter Jaspar Joffe, photographer and new Student Union leader Ekua McMorris and jeweller Donna Brennan, all parents!

For information on department 21, an interdisciplinary space at the RCA, see http://www.department21.net/

for visitor information see http://www.rca.ac.uk/Default.aspx?ContentID=508435

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Wouldnt it be nice if your toys grew with you? Little Bangers test emotional longevity

Inspired by timeless quality wooden toys, we strove to create a long-lasting emotional product that may help to assemble childhood dreams into a bright future. Life finds a way of emerging, children find ways of playing. They use what is at hand, merging contexts and scales with their endless imagination. Everything makes sense. Play, observation, discussion and design led us to conceiving a cohesive system of toys that embody this natural ability we would all like to keep in touch with.

The child’s play experience matures with him or her and is kept enthusiastic by a series of discoveries achieved through combination. This pretend world of toys truly comes to life as their combination leads to increasingly complex interactions informed by deep research into children’s physical and psychological development. Discoveries are made over years of play, culminating in a single object that may last a lifetime: an alarm clock!

Various iterations of experiments were carried out the the themes of perception and ambiguity. When the project evolved towards continually relevant products and children, we approached our outcome by investigation children’s discoveries through combination and play.

Our countless pages of sketches and discussion were carefully modelled in 3D and made ready for prototyping. Some parts where milled or carved straight from solid beechwood. Others were rapid prototyped and finished off by hand. In any case there was a lot of sanding to do!

We took the finished product to a nursery school and unleashed nine 2-6 year old children on it! The results amazed us, as they validated many of the design decisions taken in the final stages.

Pulling hidden objects from "Curiosity Box"

Rattle gets taken off a baby by girl who realised it would fit nicely in a whole in the car's body

There is a lot more to the push-along car!

Spinning top is spun at age 3 1/2

front of clock when complete

back of clock when complete

This project was developed by Chronosome Lab as part of the Innovation Design Engineering Ma/Msc for the Royal College of Art and Imperial College.

made by

Anirudha Surabhi
Christopher Black
Christina Biliouri
Antonio Fernandes
Graduating 2010


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need a break? state childcare for parents at home: the halte-garderie in france

If you stay at home to look after your little ones, all the more reason to take a break.  That is the principle of the halte-garderie system in France, where once registered, you can drop off your pre-school children for a few hours or several half days per week while you go and shop, rest, go to the hairdresser, get your legs waxed… well nobody is controlling. Financially supported by the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF), the price is modest: calculated according to your income, you pay between 0.76 euros and 2.29 euros per hour, tax deductible. For this your little love is looked after by professional childcarers in good surroundings, and gets to play with other children as well as doing lots of creative activities. The only drawback is that with all such good things, places are much sought after and there is a waiting list.

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childcare for $7 a day

coming soon

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