Mums Use Lockdown to Create Stylish Play Sofa Combining Learning and Fun

Business owners Corrine and Rhona choosing fabrics for their DOVA sofas

Two mums used life in lockdown to develop a revolutionary play sofa which combines functionality, style, and fun to create a piece of ‘educational furniture’ where the only limit to its use is a child’s imagination.

The DOVA play sofa is made of eight specially designed cushions which can be reimagined to create anything a child can think of from a castle to a cave or a boat, train or plane.

When playtime is over, the cushions can be quickly and neatly tidied back into a sofa shape perfect for rest, sleep or simply to look stylish. Crucially, the cushion covers are easily wipeable, washable and replaceable in the inevitable event of play-related mishaps.

Inspired by the Montessori principle of child-focused independent learning, the DOVA encourages children to explore their imaginations, learning how to build, balance, create, destroy, and recreate to their heart’s content.

The entrepreneurs who dreamed up the DOVA sofa are Glasgow mums Rhona Madigan and Corrine Spencer, who came up with the concept during lockdown when trying to find toys that enrich learning and play for their children but also look good in the home.

The duo, coincidentally both pregnant at the time, drew on Corrine’s considerable experience as a Montessori school teacher to design their sofa, which they wanted to appear as attractive as a piece of furniture as it is for a child to play with.

Now supported by their partners in life and business ­– husbands Euan Wheatley and Jack Madigan – the two families are ready to launch the DOVA sofa, and are already encouraged by reactions during product testing.

Rhona, who has built the business while looking after her first son, seven-month-old Max, said: “As first-time parents, we found ourselves trying to strike the balance between functionality and style, especially when it came to children’s toys.

“We were always on the hunt for things that would enrich our children’s learning and imagination skills but we also wanted something that would look great in the home.

“Instead of searching endlessly, we thought why not make something ourselves, and the whole thing grew from there.”

Corrine, who gave birth to son Spencer in July, said: “Like most parents, we wanted to encourage our children into open-ended play, to find ways to problem solve and to discover their own imaginations. And we felt there would be a lot of other parents who felt the same way.

“We thought, rather than having multiple toys which serve different purposes, why not create one that serves them all while saving room?

“We are over the moon with the DOVA sofa. The reaction from parents who’ve seen it has been amazing, but what has been even more encouraging is the response of children.

“The way they play and interact with it is exactly as we’d hoped, and we are so excited to be taking our first product to market.”

The DOVA play sofa comes in 12 colours – all named after animals – with swatches sent out ahead of delivery to ensure the colour is the perfect match.

The DOVA sofa starts at £385, with free delivery to most mainland UK addresses. For more information visit www.dovaplay.com. Follow their story on Instagram @dova.play

Montessori education was developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori. It emphasises independence, viewing children as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a sufficiently supportive and well-prepared learning environment. It discourages some conventional measures of achievement, such as grades and tests. Montessori developed her theories in the early 1900s through scientific experimentation with her students; the method has since been used in public and private education throughout the world.

DOVA Factsheet

What is the Dova made from?

The DOVA play sofa is made with high density, super comfy, polyurethane foam. The cover is a commercial grade polyester/nylon blend which is treated with stain protection.

We comply with the UK’s strict fire regulations. Both the foam and the fabric of domestic furniture are fire resistant.

What fabric is the cover made from? Is the fabric decent quality?

We use a fabric that is both comfortable and tough. It needs to resist the wear and tear of young kids, but also be comfortable enough to cuddle up on.

The fabric has an extremely high rating on the martindale rub test (.45,000), as well as category 5 for resistance to pilling and colour fastness to rubbing.

We use a proprietary stain proofing to protect the sofa.

How do people choose the right colour for the DOVA?

Our swatch service comes with all twelve DOVA colours, so you’re sure you’ll find the one that best suits your space. Make sure to lay them out in various lights as this can make the fabric appear lighter/darker.

We want the DOVA to make your home even more beautiful! You can purchase different DOVA covers for your sofa to change it up over time.

How big is the DOVA?

The DOVA can be as many different shapes and sizes as your little one can imagine. In its standard form, it measures 162cm long and 81cm deep. The tip of the triangle is 55cm from the ground, and the seat height is 25cm.

Is this a soft play?

We think the DOVA is even better. The soft textile covers on the DOVA differ from traditional soft play vinyl to fit into the aesthetics of your household. Our DOVA covers are meant to be taken apart and played with, just like soft play.

How easy is it to clean the DOVA?

With kids, spills are part of life. So we use a tough stain proofing method to protect the DOVA.

All DOVA covers are machine washable. Covers can be washed on a cool wash cycle and tumble dried on a low temperature. They can also be dry cleaned. After the first wash, there’s a small risk of shrinkage, so we recommend hanging dry at the beginning.

For water, remove covers immediately and hang dry. Only put back on once fabric and foam are completely dry. For other liquids, you’ll want to follow our other cleaning instructions.

Rebecca Grewcock
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