Why I Expose my Toddler to Design and Modern Architecture

In six words: to prepare him for the world. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a visual person or the fact that design is in my bones. I found my design and architectural style at 6 years old. I recalled our Sunday car rides where my parents drove to see upscale houses across the province. My parents looked at traditional houses while I admired the rare modern architecture houses that we encountered. They knew about my preference and encouraged it. Each time that we passed by a modern house they made sure that I saw it.

I’m doing the same with my two-year-old son. What I am teaching him goes beyond than developing good taste. Yes, I want him to recognize an aesthetically pleasing object when he sees one but my motivation goes deeper than that. I expose Zack to design for giving him the tools to be successful and happy in life and at work. In my view, preparing him for the world requires a design mindset. Design affects all parts of our live. But most importantly, design thinking enables us to explore and ultimately find new solutions to challenges.

As many parents, I want to give my son the best chances to have a great career. Most rewarding jobs require problem solving. To excel at problem solving, you must be open-minded in order to imagine how to assemble or organize things differently, to think outside the box, to simplify complex systems and to care for the stakeholders in doing so. Well-designed products fulfill what they are supposed to do in an elegant, simple form. The simplest way to learn about the value of well-designed products is to use them every day.

I expose my toddler to design for giving him the tools to be successful and happy in life and at work.

A kid is never too young to learn about design. My philosophy is the sooner, the better. I surrounded my son with great design from the toys he has to the baby gears we bought for him. I already told you that we bring him to museums. He is a fan of movies by Hayao Miyazaki; Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro are his favorite ones. We fuel its imagination by reading books every day. It seems to pay off when I look at his Mega Bloks or Duplo creations. Both my husband and I are amazed by the complexity of some of his creations.

A Modern Architecture Children’s Book

toutes les maisons sont dans la nature book

A few months ago, I bought him a wonderful book that teach kids about modern architecture. Toutes les maisons sont dans la nature is a children’s book that explains in very simple terms the design thinking behind 10 modern architecture masterpieces. You can see an evolution in form and function since the houses were designed between 1924 and 2002. The drawings are appealing to kids without being childish. Didier Cornille’s texts are a treat to read, whether you are a kid or an adult.

If you are interested, “Toutes les maisons sont dans la nature” has now been translated in English. You can buy it in either language at the bookstore of Centre Canadien d’Architecture and on Amazon. Didier Cornille also wrote an educational book for kids about skyscrapers. I added it to my son’s library.

+ photo credits: Toutes les maisons sont dans la nature written by Didier Cornille, published by Hélium
+ book now available in English: Who Built That? Modern Houses: An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects

This post was first published in March 2013 on my stylish living and entertaining blog, At Home with Kim Vallee. I made a few changes to the original post before I published it here. It’s my way to share my parenting philosophy.

Next post to read: Preparing our kids for the job market of today and tomorrow