Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Janos Stone’s Haus gives kids a new place of their own within their caregivers’ bigger house. (Photo: Haus)

Christmas is nigh and Covid rates at an all-time high, and so we pack more and more tightly into our sheltered bubbles as restaurants hibernate and outdoor patios become too cold to dine in. How and where to shop, and what are the right gifts for these challenging times? One cloister-friendly idea for a wee one in your cozy condo space is Haus, a personal play space for 3- to 9-year-olds. The collapsable structure, designed by North Cambridge resident Janos Stone, is meant to give children a sense of remove as adults and other sibs bustle about their remote work and learning tasks.

“No matter where Haus is, parents benefit from more time to themselves,” the Haus website notes.

The idea, says Stone, a self described serial entrepreneur, came from a project thesis he had as a designer in residency at Autodesk, the research and development hub: “Could robots build temporary shelters for children?” The undertaking was in response to matters of displacement and climate change, but what he could make was not as simple and easy and cost effective as the basic pole and tarp structure. Stone kept one of the pre-fab kits sitting in his basement from his Autodesk days; when the coronavirus hit, he pulled it out and set it up for his 4- and 6-year-olds to use. “It was super helpful to me and my family,” Stone says. “I called a few friends and they all jumped at the idea.” From there Stone, whose entrepreneurial endeavors have often involved around 3D printing or shared innovation centers, launched a Kickstarter campaign for production. As of now there are about 20 orders left that ship out in January. Other can be ordered but will need to be produced and shipped. Each unit costs $139 and comes in a custom designed shipping container.

Haus is made of durable and washable plastic, which lets it get dirty with outside play. (Photo: Haus)

It takes an adult less than five minute to assemble a Haus, Stone says. The A-frame structure is made of recyclable plastic and has boxes peeking out each side that add to options for play and decoration. “The flip-open tabs in the peak let children drape blankets [or] illuminate with fairy lights,” the Haus site suggests. The material is waterproof and can be wiped clean of grass or dirt from being set up outside, or if kids choose to draw on it with non-toxic, washable markers or finger paints.

Stone studied design at the Rhode Island School of Design and has a master’s from Boston University, and has taught design at Northeastern. He floats the aesthetics and values of the play structure’s Bauhaus design (rich, pleasing design, easily mass produced), which is no surprise – his grandfather, György Kepes, was part of the New Bauhaus movement at Chicago’s IIT Institute of Design, and founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The goal is to get a production partner and sell Haus to institutions such as schools, day care facilities and hospitals, Stone says. For now, you can order Haus though childrenshaus.com, where there are plenty of pictures and videos.