The Inspiration Behind Our New Crate & Kids Collection? My Own Childhood
Kate Berry channeled her SoCal roots in every design.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:04 AM
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When I started brainstorming for our new collaboration with Crate & Kids—a collection of furniture and accessories for babies all the way to teens that came about during the early days of the pandemic—my mind immediately went back to my own childhood.
Growing up in Southern California, I was always at the beach, a public space where everyone is welcome and can be themselves. As refugees from Vietnam (my parents came over when I was an infant with little more than a rice cooker), that feeling of being free meant a lot. At home, I would get scrappy with setting up my space and experiment with whatever I had on hand (no surprise: I’ve always cared about my surroundings). I took plastic milk crates from my parents’ mini market, flipped them over, added flowery fabric—and voilà! The vanity of my 11-year-old self’s dreams.
As the collection came together, that free-spirited approach stayed true—inspired by the West Coast parks, ’80s surf culture, art, and music of my youth. And so, the rounded lines of the Natural Bridges Bed and Murphy Desk (every item takes its name from California sights and locales) link back to my longtime love of plywood and how easily it bends (think: a backyard skate ramp), as well as the colorful curved bars at a playground. I even asked my artist friends Jeff Canham and Mary Matson to contribute a few special designs.
Working closely (a.k.a. regularly Zooming) with the Crate & Kids team at all hours across multiple countries and time zones was a crash course in remote product design. I leaned on them for their knowledge, expertise, and sixth sense for what kids really want. When I suggested simple striped bedding, Sebastian Brauer (VP of Design at Crate & Barrel) pushed to include the wave and surfer motifs we had been playing with for the sheets and pillows. I wasn’t convinced, but I polled my 8-year-old daughter, Quinn, and her friends for feedback—and sure enough, that was their pick.
Giving kids (and parents) the creative tools and confidence to style things their way was important to me—it’s what Domino is all about—from offering different colored knobs on a dresser to making reversible (and glow-in-the-dark) quilts that flip to reveal a new pattern. I also wanted furniture that would empower Quinn to enjoy (!) keeping her room tidy, so the mix-and-match organization systems for our Rook Bookshelf and trundle bed storage (that work under both beds) help lay that foundation. As a mom, I know you can’t have everything perfectly tidy. Sometimes you just need to throw all the stuff in a box or drawer so it’s out of sight and move on! I hope you have as much fun playing around with the pieces as I did creating them. And a big thank you to Sebastian and the entire Crate & Barrel team for believing in the collection and making it come to life like magic.
Kate x Chief Content Officer @kateberryberry