Prototype designed by Czech avant-garde, graphic artist Ladislav Sutnar. His toy design was “based on modern theories about education and play, as well as utopian ideas about reforming society”.
This set of architectural building blocks gives children an opportunity to test the laws of physics through sky-high towers and cantilevers. Made of New Zeeland pine wood, each bundle celebrates different architectural moments and styles including Habitat, Deco, Garden City, Parkland, Desert Garden, Brutalism and Factory.
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.
The interlocking plastic bricks need little introduction - they were invented in 1932 in the Danish village of Billund by Ole Kirk Christiansen, a master joiner and carpenter. Although he did not live to witness the worldwide success of his company, it was his son, Gotfred Christiansen who pioneered and patented the now-standard LEGO stud-and-tube configuration.
An educational building game that challenges children to use wooden blocks, sticks and fabric. The kits vary in size and complexity, essentially ‘growing with the child’ as their concentration, spatial thinking and problem-solving skills are developing. Trigonos is ethically made in Catalunia with FSC sustainable wood.
Inspired by all technological marvels of today, the London-based studio designs hand-crafted wooden toys and miniatures that delight children and adults alike. The studio works with a network of designers and manufacturers around the world, allowing them to ‘utilize the best craftsmen and sustainable material suppliers in order to create products of the highest quality.’
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 old technique of building masonry without mortar requires skill and patience. Comprising of up to 70 different ‘bricks’, the game encourages children to perfect their hand-to-eye coordination and strategic thinking. Das Mauerspiel is hand-crafted in Germany by Lessing Prosuktgestaltung and has received a Form Design Award in 2009.
Designed by Croatian industrial designer Hana Zadro, this multi-functional furniture collection gives children an opportunity to create their own designs. The designer’s description: ‘KokoLoko is a bench, stool or a shelf, but at the same time, a car polygon or a dollhouse, design that gives your child (or child in you) a possibility to create a character in a functional piece of furniture.’
Designed as a set of interlocking multiplex sticks, this construction toy encourages children to create a variety of objects, ranging from furniture pieces to complex, abstract sculptures. This game earned German designer Sebastian Kalies a nomination at the German Design Awards 2013.
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.
Rigamajig is a large-scale kit of parts that empowers children to create just about anything. Designed as a collection of wooden planks, wheels, bolts, nuts, rope and pulleys, it engages children to collaborate, develop problem-solving skills, follow their instincts and most importantly, make their own decision. In keeping with the spirit of open-ended play, the kit comes with no instructions or direction.
Developed in Copenhagen, MODU is a modular, durable system of blocks made from soft foam, designed for children from as young as six months to six years old. This game is all about active play, refining the child’s motor skills and challenging the imagination. MODU blocks are made from a biological material and the pegs are 100% recyclable ABS plastic.
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.
Designed by Brooklyn-based studio Fort Standard, the stone-like shapes invite its users to create their own sculpture. Each set is comprised of ten solid oak blocks beautifully colored in water-based, non-toxic paints.
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.
Crafted from ecologically harvested beach wood, the Swiss-made maze combines the fun of puzzle-making and marble runs. Children can enjoy creating endless configurations while developing their kinetic awareness and fine motor skills. The set includes 54 environmentally friendly wooden blocks and five Cuboro marbles.
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.
The designer's description: 'These are chairs that can be piled up, stacked, left scattered on the floor or grouped into random shapes of difficult equilibrium. But whatever we do with them, this game lets us play with the most primitive rules, those of a child trying to challenge himself and to dare balance itself by stacking objects using the freest of artistic expression.'Go to link
The set of fifteen walnut building blocks were created by Brooklyn-based design art studio Fort Makers. Inspired the Bauhaus movement as well as natural and organic forms, the collective celebrates the functionality of art. Their work spanning across a variety of fields ranging from mobiles, furniture and jewelry to clothing and homeware accessories.
An iconic construction game designed by British designer Patrick Rylands that continues to inspire today. The interlocking, translucent pieces challenge children to build using two dimensional surfaces rather than the classic blocks.
Archiville has been developed by Italian designer Luca Boscardin for Studio Roof. Houses, ferris wheels, mountains, trees and buildings can be all assembled from coloured pieces of recycled cardboard and arranged into ever-changing cityscapes. Luca is an Amsterdam-based designer and illustrator.
In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci designed an ingenious method for building a self-supporting bridge without the need for ropes or fasteners but held together only by the pieces of wood. The sticks help children familiarize themselves with the basic principles of physics in an interactive and colourful way while developing key skills such as logic, patience, and cooperative team-building.
Besides endless ways for building simple foundations, walls, fences, stalls as well as houses, towers and castles, these blocks are an exciting way for children to discover the world of numbers and learn the colour sequence of the rainbow. All blocks are made from lime wood, stained with non-toxic water-based color stain and coated with a non-toxic plant-based oil finish.
Royal College of Art graduate Alessandra Romario was inspired by the play of actors and children when she decided to develop her ‘Imaginary Language’ collection. The smooth, geometric shapes can be assembled to create a variety of objects, to which users can assign functions and meaning. The design is inspired by the recognition-by-components theory of Irving Biederman, according to whom our brains can recognize objects by separating them into geons.
Slumbox was designed to help children visualize the abstract nature of mathematics. The height of each beechwood block corresponds to its value so that when stacked, they match the result of the equation. Ideal for homeschooling or classrooms, the design and concept of the blocks fits perfectly within the Montessori or Waldorf learning styles.
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.
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.
Designed as a series of coloured plywood shapes to be slotted together into three-dimensional sculptures, the kit takes a spin on of the ‘House of Cards’ game designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1952.