Wooden toys have been a common thread running through our collective childhood experience. Thinking back to the wooden toys we had as a child bring back a sense of warmth happy memories. The cheap plastic and electronic toys that quickly broke have long been forgotten, but the wooden toys that were always there remain in our thoughts.
What makes them so special? The simplicity of solid wood toys awaken the imagination and stretch a child’s thinking and appreciation for beauty; they inspire an emotional response and allow to explore sensory experiences with the smell of wood, its grain, its texture.
Their simple shapes invite to a dynamic interaction and unleash infinite possibilities, making them elements that stand the test of time and accompany us well after we stop playing with them. (Do we ever?)
Today designers are reinventing and reshaping these old toys adding new meanings and new reasons to start
collecting them again. Beautiful pieces of art that kids love to play with and parents love to look at.
Alicucio by Arcangelo Savata uses waste materials to create functional objects and toys that retain traces of their past. Each object carries with it an identity card showing the place where it was found and its function before being transformed, Alicucio is known for his furniture, but more recently for his kids toys made of scraps left over from his other creations. “For me the concept of rubbish does not exist in nature, because everything can have another life.” says Savata, This is the idea his toys are based on, completely built recycling and assembling obsolete materials found in the streets of Torino, Italy, where he has been living for a couple of years. “So, recycled wood platforms found in supermarkets become furnishing elements, waste wood (chipboard, multilayer, plywood, laminated wood, etc…) become a tribute seat to Paul Klee; and in the spirit of a seat can take shape an old chest of drawers, whose memory is preserved by its original elements and to give space to the imagination a single product can serve multiple purposes, like the newly created Lallo: a friend to pull around, a storage unit or a desk.”
Alicucio’s products being hand-made fire-branded and can be easily disassembled in order to reduce the size of the packaging.
For more information visit www.alicucio.com
The initial inspiration behind Hanno and the wooden toys was Gilligan’s Island.
“I always loved when the professor would make cars of bamboo, or radios out of coconuts. I like the counter-intuitive idea of creating a hi-tech object out of an organic material. Before Hanno was created, the original idea was to make a wooden robot. I started sketching and carving different body parts and the robot started to get more animated. A gorilla emerged and it seemed to be the most obvious next step. Its personality was perfect for the mass of the wood. The sway back posture and powerful arms were there from the beginning. It also has a lot more human qualities. The act of standing became very important. All the following animals have kept this as a primary requirement. This culminated with Hattie the Elephant who can do handstands.
“Another source of inspiration was playing with my son, Fenner. He has a lot of action figures and I was inevitably analyzing them when we played with them. I also liked the idea of combining an urban Kidrobot-type aesthetic with the iconic Danish wooden toys. The result has been a great crossover toy, as they appeal to the toy collector as well as the moms that only want to buy their children heirloom toys. These toys are built to last –so hopefully it will end up being a toy that kids hang on to and pass down to their children.”
All of Week’s wooden toys are made with sustainably harvested new growth beech wood.
For more information visit www.davidweeksstudio.com
TREE HOPPER by Eric Siegel
Tree Hopper Toys are as distinctive as the insects they take their name from and as unique as the children who play with them.
“We wanted a name that referenced nature and also sounded playful,“ says Eric Siegel, the creative eye behind Tree Hopper.
“Our toys are vehicles for children to express their own creativity. I don’t think a toy needs to have bright colors and flashing lights to be engaging. I reject the idea that a toy is simply entertainment, just something to keep them busy. Kids already have everything they need to have a great time, I just provide safe objects for them to explore
their expansive imagination and further develop their creativity and fine motor skills.
“A child should be the actor/director, and his toys should be his props, not the other wa around. There are far too many toys on the market that numb a child’s creativity, so I try to do the exact opposite.
“Creating a safe environment for a child to thrive is also at the core of Siegel’s business, whose toys are all natural and without the use any toxic material. “We made the conscious choice to produce locally using sustainable domestic hardwoods and making every effort to minimize waste.”
These toys are classic and iconic pieces that hopefully will stand the test of time and last for generations to come.
“When I design I keep parents in mind too. I want my toys to enhance the aesthetics and décor of a family’s home, rather than be an eyesore. I try to make toys that don’t have to be stuffed in the closet when the family has company over.”
For more information visit www.treehoppertoys.com
JUAN PABLO CAMBARIERE
Juan Pablo is a Buenos Aires based artist and designer. He is renowned for his record and book covers, but we fell in love with his unconventional work with wooden puppets. Most of them have strings, some of them are mechanical. He uses undhecorated wood, simple shapes and let the material do the rest.
“People always see a lot of expressions. I believe this is also because the wood is such an organic material. It doesn’t make perfect cuts or forms. So the imperfect cut in a square mouth might slide to make a bit of a smile. They are just blocks of wood but everyone sees so much expression! Most of the time it is more about what isn´t there than what is. I never do a complete face. I only add a nose, or just the mouth, or perhaps one eye. So people have to complete it in their minds. In my experience, if you give enough space to the reader he constructs his own rich message. It’s like when you do psychotherapy: the therapist is always silent, talking as little as possible and that way he gives you the space to talk and even listen to your own words.”
For more information visit www.cambariere.com
PLAYSAM ’S WORLD
Classic and contemporary. Fanciful and functional. Simple and sophisticated. At first glance, these characteristics may seem slightly contradictory. But Playsam firmly believe that opposites attract.
“With each and every toy, we not only strive for physical functionality, but also for an art form thatrtistic concepts and conventions. The mission is to shape executive wooden toys that exude charm and charisma while simultaneous audience. The products’ capacity to appeal to the mind’s eye is equally as significant as their bright
and glossy surfaces.”
A classic organic Playsam design, the Streamliner Classic Car has been selected as Swedish Design Classic by the Swedish National Museum for its inventive style and sleek surface.