Noook (2014) by Torsten Sherwood
Noook (2014) by Torsten Sherwood

With a background in product and architectural design, Sherwood was inspired by the way children play with cardboard boxes. The cardboard discs connect by slotting into each other giving way to a whole new type of building system – instinctive, free and open-eneded.

Tectus Cube (2008) by Naef
Tectus Cube (2008) by Naef

Tectus is based on the model and drawings of architect Jo Neimeyer’s 1996 project called “System 618”. The cube is divided several times in adherence to the golden ratio and surrounded by black shapes. During play, these become foundations, walls or roofs and a player the architect. Everything fits into each other harmoniously.

Munari-Mobile-Montessori-DIY-Bildrechte-
Munari-Mobile-Montessori-DIY-Bildrechte-
The Tyng Toy (1949) by Anne Tyng
The Tyng Toy (1949) by Anne Tyng

Designed by young architect Anne Tyng at the age of 27, the Tyng Toy included a modular, interlocking building system of plywood dowels and pins. Tyng was the first female graduate of Harvard's engineering program, a student of Buckminster Fuller and the pioneering engineering partner of Louis Kahn.

Plus and Minus (1970) by Bruno Munari
Plus and Minus (1970) by Bruno Munari

The visual game 'Plus and Minus' consists of 72 cards, each with a different image. A selection of these images have a transparent background and can be layered to make different, more complex superimpositions and stimulate children's creativity.

Kaleidoscope House (2001)  Laurie Simmons, Peter Wheelwright
Kaleidoscope House (2001) Laurie Simmons, Peter Wheelwright

Comissioned and produced by Bozart Toys, the Kaleidoscope House is an interactive creative play environment, designed by Laurie Simmons and New York architect Peter Wheelwright. The layout is defined by luminescent, acrylic separation walls and populated with custom, miniature furniture created by well-known designer such as Jasper Morrison and Michael Graves.

Frame Blocks (2014), B6 Studio
Frame Blocks (2014), B6 Studio

Japanese studio B6 developed this prototype inspired by the concept of the steel-truss. The beautifully designed, colorful components, encourage children and adults alike to learn about basic structural and load-bearing notions through hands-on testing and creative thinking.

Duck and Duckling (1959) by Hans Bølling
Duck and Duckling (1959) by Hans Bølling

The Duck and the Duckling were designed by Danish architect and designer Hans Bølling. Both pieces were inspired by an incident that took place in the neighborhood of Fredriksborg in Copenhagen when a family of ducks attempted to cross a busy road in the middle of rush hour, prompting a policeman to stop all cars and pedestrians to cross safely. The handmade ducks are made out of teak wood with a smooth finish.

Eames Plywood Elephant (1945) by Charles and Ray Eames
Eames Plywood Elephant (1945) by Charles and Ray Eames

This item in our archive needs little introduction. It is widely known that Charles and Ray Eames spent several years developing and refining their technique for plywood molding to achieve their aesthetically striking, ergonomic furniture designs. The plywood elephant, initially designed for Charles’s daughter, proved to be most challenging to realize from a technical standpoint. Aiming to make it accessible to the audience it was initially intended for, Vitra has released a smaller, plastic ver

Stories in Structures (2018) by Kolekto
Stories in Structures (2018) by Kolekto

Both toy and design object, this wooden building puzzle is designed and crafted by a small architect workshop in Copenhagen. Part of the series Stories in Structures, each set consists of a variety of buildings differing in shape and scale that can be re-arranged in multiple combinations.

Child’s Wheelbarrow (1923) by Gerrit Rietveld
Child’s Wheelbarrow (1923) by Gerrit Rietveld

The barrow exemplifies the stylistic characteristics of De Stijl: elemental geometric forms, primary colors, the perpendicular relationship between the vertical and horizontal, and the celebration of the revealed, straight joint. As the father of six children himself, the architect and furniture designer created some of the iconic pieces of children's furniture of the twentieth century.

Naef Spiel (1957) by Kurt Naef
Naef Spiel (1957) by Kurt Naef

One of the first designs launched by Swiss toy manufacturer Naef, the sixteen building blocks were designed by the company’s founder himself. Following his studies in carpenting and architecture, Kurt Naef re-shaped the traditional construction block, carving out eight angled teeth within each piece. A unique feature of this building system is the stacking together of the blocks to create staggered structures that are wider at the top than at the base.

Blocks (2012) by Torafu Architects
Blocks (2012) by Torafu Architects

Japanese studio Torafu Architects reinvented the construction block, introducing dowels as connective elements. Each block has pre-drilled holes on all of its sides, making it easy to create a variety of abstracted structures, ranging from animals to cityscapes.

Doll House with Suitcase (2013) by Anna Pfeiffer
Doll House with Suitcase (2013) by Anna Pfeiffer

Produced by German company Hase Weiss and designed by architect Anna Pfeiffer in collaboration with artist Ulrike Rumpenhors, this ingenious modular dollhouse allows children to experiment with its configuration endlessly. The Suitcase Kit contains two small rooms, a medium-sized room and a set of stairs.

Puppy (2005) by Eero Aarnio
Puppy (2005) by Eero Aarnio

The abstract Puppy Dog is an iconic product, designed by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio for Magis part of the ‘Me too’ collection. Made from extremely durable and strong polyethylene, the toy is suitable for outdoor use and is available in four sizes and various, brilliant colors.

The Eames Toy (1951) by Charles and Ray
The Eames Toy (1951) by Charles and Ray

Designed as a large-scale building toy, the kit is comprised of eight large water-resistant, phthalate-free vinyl panels, 38 hardwood dowels and connection wires. The kit - re-issued in 2017 - encourages children to play with scale and create their own colorful structures.

Tsumiki (2015) by Kengo Kuma
Tsumiki (2015) by Kengo Kuma

This interactive building set designed by prolific architect Kengo Kuma is comprised of V-shaped ‘toy blocks’ that can be stacked, balanced or laid flat into complex sculptural formations. Created in collaboration with forest conservation organization ‘More Trees,’ the pieces are crafted from Japanese cedar.

The Coloring Toy (1955) by Charles and Ray Eames
The Coloring Toy (1955) by Charles and Ray Eames

This timeless toy was reintroduced in 2017 and contains eight die-cut panels, sixteen premium crayons and butterfly clips. The panels can be colored, punched out and attached together, encouraging children to explore shapes and invent characters through imaginative play.

Alexander Girard Memory Game (2012) by G
Alexander Girard Memory Game (2012) by G

Educated as an architect at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, Alexander Girard was also an interior, furniture and textile designer. Girard’s distinctive folk art-inspired designs for Herman Miller are captured In a collection of 36 pairs, encased in a limited edition wooden box.

House of Cards (1952) by Charles and Ray Eames
House of Cards (1952) by Charles and Ray Eames

The House of Cards was initially designed in 1952 and consisted of the ‘pattern deck’ which contained 54 cards printed in a variety of patterns and textures. A second set - the ‘picture deck’ - was later re-issued utilizing printed photographs on one side and the asterisk logo of the Eames on the other. Each card had six slits, allowing for a variety of architectural structures to be created, whether large or small.

Dollhouse and Furniture (2019) by Bubud
Dollhouse and Furniture (2019) by Bubud

Toy brand Bubud was founded by two mothers inspired by their children’s approach to play - architect Paula Zasnicoff and designer Andrea Gomes. The the laser-cut MDF kits include miniature architectural, furniture and design items that invite children to explore color, shapes, textures and sizes.

Dollhouse Chair (2014) by Torafu Archite
Dollhouse Chair (2014) by Torafu Archite

Tokyo-based studio Torafu Architects have designed a wooden chair for children that splits open to reveal a dollhouse. Once pulled apart, the seat’s red arms become roof gables and the hollow, internal volume reveals four ledges that can be used for placing miniature furniture. Made from painted white birch plywood.

ABC con Fantasia (1960) Bruno Munari
ABC con Fantasia (1960) Bruno Munari

Once again, Munari demonstrates his sensitivity to children’s need for simplicity when facing abstract concepts such as shapes and letters. By devising a collection of straight and curved soft-plastic strokes, the designer allows children to assemble every letter of the traditional alphabet or, why not, make up their own.

Lincoln Logs (1916) by John Lloyd Wright
Lincoln Logs (1916) by John Lloyd Wright

The Lincoln Logs are one of America’s most iconic toys and were inspired by Wright’s trip to Japan alongside his father, where he worked as chief assistant on the design of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. Conceived as a set of interlocking beams, this toy continues to stir the imagination more than a century after its creation.

Wright Blocks (1949) by John Lloyd Wrigh
Wright Blocks (1949) by John Lloyd Wrigh

In 1918, John-Lloyd Wright, son of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, patented the iconic building set widely known as ‘Lincoln Logs’. Years later, he designed the Wright Blocks - a far more modern and abstract version of their predecessor, based on the same principle of interlocking cross-grooved wooden strips.

Dandanah - The Fairy Palace (1919) by Bruno Taut
Dandanah - The Fairy Palace (1919) by Bruno Taut

Renowned German architect and artist Bruno Taut was known for his utopian visions and love of glass. After the First World War, Taut created a glass set of colourful blocks, that allowed children to experiment with sunlight, refelctions and transparencies. Dandanah – which is an Indian word for a bundle of rods or pillars – suggests the architect was inspired by India’s colorful and exotic palaces.

Vitra Dolls (1963) by Alexander Girard
Vitra Dolls (1963) by Alexander Girard

Together with Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, Alexander Girard was one of the leading figures of postwar American design. The dolls are made from solid fir and were inspired by his extensive personal collection of folk art, gathering items from South America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

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