Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Alert: Century of the Child

This is the catalog for a the 2012 MOMA Show in NYC "Century of the Child", definitely my favorite show ever seen at the MOMA. The books consists of illustrations, photographs, video stills and nicely photographed pictures from a wonderfully curated collection of toys, children's furniture, children's books, animation, educational aids and playground equipment from the 20th century. The show was really great and in fact this book is equally great and a super informative documentation of the evolution of design for children. 

I grew up in a time when skate parks and what might of been described as dangerous playgrounds and toys were being torn down, recalled, and phased out due to a society with an astoundingly itchy finger for lawsuits. The photos and sense of nostalgia of those playgrounds and the raw creativity they generated makes me realize when and where the pinnacle "play" was at.
Here's a photo and description from the show that's a perfect example of the most amazing playground;

"The 'Model' (name of the playground which was installed in a Stockholm museum) was dense, chaotic, and exuberant. An extensive wooden structure- part jungle gym, part tree house, part construction scaffolding- provided various heights from which to jump into a pit full of foam blocks below. There were ramps and slides, rope swings, water chutes, tools and building materials and endless art supplies. Completely unfettered, the children played, built, and painted the walls in a chaotic tangle of raw energy, complete with loud speakers pumping music from turntables operated by the children themselves. Few adults dared to enter this creative anarchy...(1968)"
Now that is the description of the pinnacle of play, and something we will likely never see again. 
Besides pointing out that playgrounds were initially built to discourage children from playing in the burnt out military equipment and bomb craters of post war Europa- this book tracks an entire history of playthings, from early montessori educational aids, through legos, to the Pee Wee Herman show and into some of todays most advanced robotic toys- this book is nearly complete history of Toy design in the 20th century. An amazing collection of history and reference in here for anyone interested in toy design or design for children. Highly recommended!

Century of the Child; Growing by Design 1900-2000
Tanya Harrod, Medea Hoch, Juliet Kinchin
Museum of Modern Art (August 2012)
264pgs (HC)
ISBN-10 0870708260
12 x 9.8 x 1.1

Listing for about $40 bucks on Amazon !

1 comment:

caro said...

Thank you Ian for the new year wishes and it was great seeing you as well. Jan and Aya (and I) loved the Century of the Child show at the MOMA. So glad you posted it. Carolyn