July 19, 2007

Offi Da Charts: Price Increase On Nursery Furniture Leaves Gap In "Affordable Modern" Market

offi_bebe_ply_crib.jpg

When did this happen? Here's a tip from an anonymous new dad reader:

I don't know if you've noticed, but Offi just made some major, across-the-board, price increases. In my book they are now completely out of the "affordable" range (their cribs are now $799 and $999!).
offi_bebe_old_prices.jpg

Sure enough, comparing these screenshots from Design Public to Offi's own webstore, it appears they've jacked the prices on their BeBe 2 Crib $100-200. The Bebe 2 Dresser/Changing Table's still $599, but the taller Cabinet jumped from $499 to $599.

Also, the Offi Box Bench just went from $499 to $599. Why, I bet you could make one for less than half that in the garage of your rental house! But New Dad's not through:

offi_bench_old_price.jpg
Is it just me, or wasn't part of the whole idea of modern design (especially the ply/Eames variety) to make the products be affordable? I think there is a real hole in the marketplace - I guess Oeuf's Sparrow is the most reasonably priced modern children's line outside of Target-world?
Well, it's not just Oeuf; Truck/Nurseryworks, Argington and Netto have all made moves into the $500-700 crib range lately, but you're right, dad, that the point/promise of modernism was supposed to be affordability and the democratization of good design. But isn't that what Target's for? Yeah, capitalism?
I understand why things are expensive (plywood is not cheap any more, nor is it environmentally ideal), but it sure seems like a mom&pop could put out something like the Slotti Crib in a less sexist style.
sexist_slotti_crib.jpg

I totally agree. The Slotti Crib is sweet, but unbearably sexist. Could someone beat Target at their own discounting game by making an affordable modernist crib on a small scale? Or would it just make more sense to set up a custom painting business and just travel the country tricking out peoples' Slottis? The crazyman at Schneider's told us that the unpainted Jenny Lind we ended up with was a favorite among the makeover crowd; they'd buy it for $150, shabby chic it up [ugh], then sell it at ABC Carpet for $1,600. Screw that, but tell me: what's the market for $250 Slottis--or that $85 Ikea number, even--with a badass $300 airbrush or pinstriping job?

Offi Kids | Bedroom & Nursery vs Offi @ Design Public [offi.com, designpublic.com]
Slotti Candy Girl Crib, with pink stripes and flowers, $250 at Target [target]
Oeuf Sparrow Crib, at DT advertiser Sparkability [sparkability]

Previously: Slotti Crib by Cosatto; Oeuf Sparrow

11 Comments

The store Bonton in Paris does just that - they get basic cribs and high chairs from big box manufacturer Combelle, have them painted in custom colors and sell them for 250 euros (cribs) and 140 euros (high chairs). After coveting them for weeks and finding out that shipping would triple the price, we ended up with the next best thing: an Ikea Sniglar with a gray paint job.

[sounds great, got pics? Bonton's website's a little screwy, but they show choco marron, mauve, sagesse, gris, and antique rose. interesting. -ed.]

There was an art show that I installed where the traveling show provided designs for desks and tables for the exhibition. The gallery took the designs to a computer-aided fabrication shop. All we provided was the plywood and design directions. It reduced the expense of shipping pre-made furniture

If designs for baby gear were available for download, and the expense/trouble were small enough I would think getting it made by a local shop would be an alternative to the pricey prefab furniture being talked about.

But then again, I'm just thinking of buying a cheaper Ikea crib and customizing it to something better looking.

Seriously wtf? The only of these "modern" cribs that are truly modern in the way that the 1940s could have produced are the IKEA cribs. They are designed for mass-production, flat-packing and affordability to a large audience. That's why we got one for $119 and gave it a paint job.

I've got the same gripes about the "modern" pre-fab houses that are insanely custom and made one-at-a-time for three times the price of a Toll Brothers McMansion.

Oh, and check out this two-function cradle/sofa from IKEA, circa 1998.

[1) that Ikea crib/sofa is AMAZING. 2) I still have a quote stuck from some Central Park South guy in my head from the NYT from 1996, early in the minimalist revival: "Let's face it, minimalism under 4,000 square feet is kind of pathetic." Most of modern/minimalist design has toed that luxury line ever since.

ok, here's the exact quote, from author Herbert Ypma. I just looked it up: ''Spare looks best at over 4,000 square feet...At anything less, it's more like, 'You poor thing. . . .' ''-ed.]

Get used to it, G. They way the Euro is going these days against the USD, Bugaboos are going to two grand before you know it.

I was about to post how crazy it was that on the Bench Box, (off-the-shelf) casters now represent a $150 upgrade over the (custom) metal legs, but it looks like the leg version got a $100 bump too.

Those are two of the most unappealing cribs I've ever seen -- at any price. Not that I like cribs in the first place.

not that this is necessarily the place for such discussions, but i think its been a loooong while since 'modernism' had anything to do with 'democracy', much less 'affordability'. read your tafuri, folks, esp. 'Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development'.
All the same, it would seem like a 'simple' aesthetic could lead to 'low-cost' design and manufacturing systems. the problem is usually about quality materials - we just spent NZ$140 on a simple wooden toddler table, the plastic almost identical version was 1/3 the price. not even to get into sustainable materials issues.

Seeking a non gender-specific slot-together crib?
You need the Lindam Solo.

[ah yes, we worshipped the Lindam during slot-together furniture week. Better than the Slotti, but unfortunately not available in the US. And the UK-version Slottis are different dimensions, too, I believe, to accommodate different mattress regulation sizes. -ed.]

oh, and a similar style crib/bench is available from JoJo Maman Bebe though I bet it's a sight more expensive than the Ikea one was.

[best name since Kajagoogoo, btw -ed.]

daniel is right.. somewhere along the way "minimalist" and "modern" became euphemisms for "pretending to be minimalist in a way that makes sure you know that I spent a ton of money on it" and "aping styles made in the 40s, badly"

There was an article in some design mag I was reading lately and one of the points was basically: how can you pretend your kitchen in minimalist if, to achieve the "look" you actually wind up using at least double the materials of a regular kitchen.

I don't think any small cabinet shop could produce the Bebe crib for much less on a small scale, not if they wanted to make anything other than a loss on the exercise.

The sort of high-quality plywood used for the Bebe crib -- Baltic Birch or "Apple Ply" (trade names) -- is expensive. The retail price for that type of plywood runs about $100 per 4x8 foot sheet. Given the size of the panels from which it is assembled, there's easily $300-400 worth of plywood involved, not including labor costs, tooling, finishing, matress/upholstery, etc.

Unless buying in large enough quantities to get a significant, serious discount on the sheet stock, I don't believe anybody would be able to make something like that for much less than what it currently sells for and make a profit.

The dollar's collapse against the Euro and other currencies is just icing on the cake.

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