Designing furniture for children is not kid's stuff. Some of the country's top designers are turning their attention to juvenile furniture.
Child Craft and ETC (Environmental Teen Concepts) are sister firms with collections designed by such notables as Lawrence Peabody, Tony Torrice and Joseph Calomino, among others.
Thomasville Furniture Industries manufacturer of contemporary, traditional and antique reproductions, is entering the youth market for the first time. Shunning "cute," the Thomasville designers have created five styles that will grow with the child and perhaps furnish his or her first apartment in the years ahead.
Here's a glimpse of new juvenile furniture:
* "Bottoms-Up" is designer Calomino's name for a chair that kids are bound to love and their parents are likely to admire for its design and finely crafted look. Upside down or downside up, the chair is shaped with perfect symmetry. It is 12 1/2 inches high and wide, with a center seat. Available in natural finish or colors, the chair is light and durable, with hardwood construction. It will retail for about $69.
The chair will be manufactured by Chair Craft in High Point, Mr. Calomino said, and he is looking for various means of distribution, including children's furnishings catalogs.
(Write Joseph Calomino, 67 Monroe Ave., Staten Island, N.Y., 10301, or call (718) 442-6473 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.)
* ETC has introduced four collections.
Popsicles, by Mr. Peabody, is colorful and imaginative. The group is named for its headboard, a colorful cluster of panels, each shaped like a Popsicle stick. The colors -- juicy red, taxi yellow, and brilliant turquoise -- mix well with the natural wood in the cases. The bed costs about $369; the night stand, $189.
Heartland is a traditional group in honey oak. Carved drawer frontssport brass pulls. A four-poster twin bed retails for about $575; a chest of drawers for $425.
Freestyle is a white laminate group with red, blue or brass trim. Smartly styled, it combines a European look with American verve. The bureaus could easily be used in a young person's first apartment. A twin bed will retail for about $329.
Cubics, designed by Snyder-Brezney, features oak solids and veneers in three finishes: honey oak, natural oak and canyon oak. The pieces have bull nose details. The bed, with a two-drawer storage unit beneath it, will cost about $550; a student desk with a hang-on shelf for a computer keyboard is $325.
Child Craft and ETC are distributed through furniture, department and specialty stores.
* Thomasville's new Ribbons and Bows collection for girls is in white-washed pine, with or without pastel nosegays of roses and ribbons, delicately trailing across the four-poster bed ($815 retail for twin or queen), dresser ($750) and nightstand ($375). There's also a sleigh bed ($815, twin or queen) and lingerie chest ($750).
Another feminine collection is Portrait. Made of maple with cherry veneers, it has soft Victorian lines.
For boys, Thomasville offers Affinity, a contemporary oak style that includes computer desks and bunk beds. A bed with a trundle will retail for about $700; the computer desk is $500; the chair is $280.
There's also a Shaker-inspired Solitare collection and Commentary, a contemporary group in red oak with rustic pecan veneers.
Thomasville's youth furniture is available through its Thomasville Interior Showcase galleries.
When shopping for children's furniture, don't buy something just because it's cute. By the time the child is 12, he or she will hate sleeping in a bed with a headboard in the shape of a bunny rabbit.
Buy well-made furniture in practical laminate or solid wood that will survive the wear and tear of the heirs and their pals.