Cradle of Hope
The most important part of the story of the Cradle of Hope is not its greenness, though it is. It's about how design contributes to solving the critical needs of people, including those most needy.
Rachelle McClure and Sean Coyne, two former classmates in a graduate furniture design program at Florida State University, collaborated on a project to design a cradle that would meet the unique requirements of parents and their babies living in homeless shelters.
Under the direction of associate professor Jill Pable, who had long focused on projects for the homeless, McClure and Coyne noticed the tight communal quarters shelter families lived in and the resultant frustrations--and dangers from accidental smothering--of parenting.
"Based on their observations, Rachelle and Sean designed a cradle atop a unique cantilever base, which can slide underneath a shelter bunk and out of the way," Pable said. "The cradle itself is suspended immediately above the parent's bed, making for a design that occupies very little floor space, a particularly vital consideration in shelter quarters. More significantly, the design serves to position the cradle immediately next to the parent, so that he or she can easily comfort the baby while both are resting in their respective ‘bunks.' In a shelter, absent these design features, parents must care for their infant while it is sleeping in a car seat--obviously not ideal--or sleep together with the infant in a single adult bed--which tragically can lead to accidental smothering."
Designed specifically for Tallahassee's HOPE Community shelter, the designers are seeking a manufacturer to make the Cradle of Hope available to others, even those outside the shelter community.
Oh, and about the greenness, eco-friendly sustainable materials are a major design component including organic, cotton-canvas fabric, stainless steel-frames with recycled, translucent, whimsically detailed resin panels (donated by 3form), which allows light to filter in. All the materials are easily cleaned, important in a shelter with a constant flow of new residents.
Pable sums it up nicely. "It is exciting to see the power of a good idea, especially from my students. Design has the potential to make the ‘built environment' a better place for everyone, and this cradle is a prime example of that."