Kalon Studios

IO Crib


When Michaele Simmering and Johann Pauwen first learned they were expecting, the prospect of finding nursery furniture that met their expectations seemed impossible. “We had spent a long time searching for a crib without any luck,” they recall. “The world of nursery design is particularly staid, full of outdated traditions and norms that don’t feel very relevant and definitely didn’t appeal to us.” That might be because the husband-and-wife founders of Los Angeles furniture studio Kalon have dedicated their careers to creating elevated versions of everyday objects with sustainable materials and the utmost care (see their stellarly simplistic Rugosa Chair and Simple Bed for proof). “We wanted [our crib] to function as a stimulating, versatile space for our daughter to grow with beyond her nursery years.” A run-of-the-mill baby crib, they decided, wouldn’t cut it.

So the couple decided to build their own. “Since we were new to all of it, we didn’t feel attached to typical designs,” they say, starting the design process by asking hard-hitting questions few designers care to ask about cribs. Why did the screen need to feel like jail bars? What other forms might better frame and engage the world in ways that a baby might find interesting? How could they employ contrast and negative space in a unique and inspiring way? This creative freedom—and the couple’s inherent tendency to question the expected—became the driving force behind Io, an immaculately constructed piece that elevates the baby crib to high art. 

By The Numbers:

1-3 months of age when infants begin developing vision
132 geometric cut-outs per crib
1 material used
4-5 convertible configurations per crib (including conversion to toddler bed)
1990s cross-laminated timber (CLT) first developed in Austria and Germany
60 kg net carbon sequestered per crib
99 percent of components that are biodegradable
2019 year when CLT’s founding father Gerhard Schickhofer was awarded the Marcus Wallenberg Prize for contributions to forestry and forest industries
80 minutes to cut 
120 minutes to sand and finish
10 individual components
40/20 minutes to assemble (novice/expert)
At first glance, the Io Crib’s most compelling feature is the patterned cutouts, which offer full visibility inside. Forgoing humdrum wooden bars, the couple envisioned an ornate geometry that references Moroccan wood screens and Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass panels. When light shines on the crib, a compelling shadow play stimulates the baby’s imagination. “Babies are most drawn to contrast as they first begin to take in the world around them,” the couple says. “For this reason, we wanted to create a striking form that brought to life the space around it.” Safety was also top of mind (“if our daughter wanted to gnaw on the wood, no big deal”), which explains the crib’s beguilingly simple use of only one single material: a lightweight yet extremely durable oak cross-laminated timber sourced in Germany and made through an advanced technology not yet available in the United States. “We very much believe that sustainable design, high design, and kid’s design need not be mutually exclusive,” Simmering and Pauwen say. “The Io crib is proof of that belief.”