Furniture to suit kids' energy and imagination

Jim Hull was trained as an architect and his wife, Penny, was a primary teacher when they married. When they had children, they couldn't find the kind of furnishings they thought urban children today should have.

So they pooled their talents and formed H.U.D.D.L.E., which unravels to stand for Hull Urban Design Development Laboratory, Etc. With their company, the two began to design, manufacture, and sell the kind of tough, intriguing, and altogether delightful furniture that they thought kids would enjoy. It's not mini-grown-up stuff, but a whole new concept recognizing that children have active imaginations; love to hide and play-act, climb, draw, and slide; and love color, comfort, and flixibility. they wanted to make furniture that encouraged artistic expression and sparked imagination.

When they began in 1970 they had one child, Heather. Another, Kory, was on the way. They knew their children would probably never have the tree houses and hideaways that they had enjoyed as youngsters growing up in small towns, so they decided to build some of the same feeling of adventure into the furniture they made of high- density vinyl and wood. their own youngsters were so pleased with the system that they began to tell customers that it was child-tested and approved, right in their own home.

The system is made to be both safe and sturdy; comes in an assortment of primary colors like green, yellow, red, and blue; and can be assembled in a variety of ways to meet the needs of a child as he grows. The elements can also be assembled to suit the individual requirements of each youngster.There are add-on shelves, trundle beds, bunk beds, loft beds, desks with slant tops, and chairs that adjust in height from 13 to 17 inches. The pieces can be bought singly or as a group, and they are engineered to be practically indestructible. Many have several purposes, such as the "chilspace art-gym," which combines a slide, a painting easel, and a puppet theater all in one piece. The chests are made to begin single, low, and shadow when a child is small, then to stack slowly up to college-age capacity.

The Hulls sell their designs through three H.U.D.D.L.E. retail shops in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Ana, Calif. they make a wide range of innovative designs, and they keep collecting awards for their very different approach. Last year their Huddlecouch was cited by the Resources Council of Southern Colifornia, and this year the couple's new crib-chest unit, introduced to the market in 1979, won antother award.

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