September 16, 2010

Alright, Southern California, Show Me Your H.U.D.D.L.E. Toobs

Four years ago, Daddy Types was the only Internet mention of Toobs, the awesome modular/homebrew/adaptive reuse children's furniture collection by Los Angeles designers Penny and Jim Hull. The Hulls and their new company, Hull Urban Design, Development, Etc., or H.U.D.D.L.E., for short, were prominently featured in Hennessey & Papanek's 1973 classic sourcebook, Nomadic Furniture.

Like so many modern kid design stories, H.U.D.D.L.E. began when the Hulls couldn't find children's furniture that fit their lifestyle, so they started making it. In this case, out of lengths of heavy fiberboard tubes used to cast concrete. Which they would sell, finished and ready-to-assemble, or raw by the foot.

There's a 1971 patent granted to Hull for uh, "Cylindrical Members." And on Dec. 30, 1972 the NY Times covered the Toobs' debut at D|R, Design Research, Ben Thompson's pioneering modernist design store. [Which happens to be the subject of a new book by Jane Thompson and Alexandra Lange.] So we learn the dimensions and pricing: 84 in. high, 77 in. long, tubes 36 in. diameter, with 30 in. wide mattresses. In red, white, and blue, for $325 [plus 2 convex mattresses, $100]. Also that "the Hulls actually see their [bunk bed] design as a play environment, too."

It seemed an awesome but somewhat utopian venture, which seemed to have disappeared with barely a trace. And even though I eventually ended up on Penny Hull's Palos Verdes real estate mailing list, I couldn't find any more info, or pictures, or product.

"Let's H.U.D.D.L.E."

Well, now I know that not only did the Boomer dream of stacking your kids in cardboard tubes not die, it thrived. And spread across Southern California. For over a decade. And it may have even resulted in the world's first plexi crib, and the first crib that converted to an actual bed.


But more on that later. By 1981, H.U.D.D.L.E. was a chain of kids furniture stores, with locations in Westwood, Orange County, and San Diego. The OC store was actually located at the ground zero of California consumptionism, South Coast Plaza, and was advertised every month in Orange Coast Magazine. Those ads are now on Google Books.


And it looks like, for one thing, the Toobs bunk bed was advertised as late as September 1984--in an issue with supermodel/superstar Loni Anderson on the cover. At least 10 years. So there HAVE to be some of these things out there, right? R.I.G.H.T.? N.E.W.P.O.R.T., I'M L.O.O.K.I.N.G A.T. Y.O.U..


I want/need one of these t-shirts. Let's H.U.D.D.L.E.

I swear I have some early memory of those tube-bed things from when I was really little (which correlates to the early 80s).

Not mine, but maybe a friend's, or in some TV show...or maybe a catalog or something...?

I know, right? Race you...

The L-configured bunk beds *may* have been the one in the boys' bedroom in Diff'rent Strokes.

That Loni Anderson shot is breathtaking. Like being kicked in the gut.

by a Solid Gold dancer?

I had orange and green toob beds as a kid in the 70s. My father has been trying to locate a set to buy for my nephew. Anyone seen any for sale? We sold ours in 1984. Very sad day.

I had a adult H.U.D.D.L.E couch/bed - it was the best thing. Bought it from the store in San Diego in 1983. Wish I still had it.

hi i just ran across this posting.

my last studio landlord was none other than Jim Hull. he is a very interesting man, he loves his cars, especially european sport cars and the color green. in fact he has a british racing green tesla (i think he also owns the building that houses santa monica's tesla dealer)

here's something i dug from a 1997 LA Times article: (notice all the green references)

i learned of his furniture ventures through just shooting the breeze with him. the culver city studio space i rented from him used to be office/operations for the furniture business when it was thriving. The furniture, as I understand it, was manufactured in the large warehouse building across the street – which is now a high end cageless dog kennel. Go figure.

He and his wife went thru a divorce that I gather it was not pretty (he would frequently bring it up), and I think the furniture stores went way mainstream and she was behind that. see: Not sure how solid my facts are here… Except for the divorce part.

he has grandchildren now and mentioned his son was encouraging him to revive his creations - the bunk beds in particular. you better believe i also was encouraging as well.

So there you go, a little additional info for what it is worth.

haha, that's great info, thanks. I'd found and contacted his ex-wife a few years ago, and I gathered that there was not a lot of goodwill there. But I'm glad he's still going strong. Maybe trading 2CV and Monaco stories will be the key to bringing the HUDDLE furniture back. Thanks again.

If you have Penny's contact info, please forward it to me at your convenience.


Jackie B

I don't; the info I had appears to be out of date.

I had one of these (and the shelves) as a kid. Great to see it again.

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