Century of the Child – design through the ages

Babyology readers have one thing in common – we all love good design for children. With that in mind, wait until you ‘see’ MoMA’s latest exhibition.

In 1900, social theorist Ellen Key predicted that the twentieth century would be the ‘century of the child’, with a new focus on the rights, development and well-being of children. Inherent in Key’s theory was the belief that progressive design was an important element in shaping children’s experience of living in a rapidly changing world.

Using Key’s prediction as a starting point, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is hosting Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900–2000, an exhibition that puts progressive 20th century design design related to children on display. The exhibition shows a diverse array of ideas and objects that have influenced the physical, intellectual and emotional development of children. The breadth of what’s on display is stunning – from the obvious inclusions such as toys, books and nursery furniture to the unlikely – political propaganda and therapeutic products.

The exhibition is arranged in seven sections, loosely grouped by time but also themed in unusual ways. For example, ‘Avant-Garde Playtime’ looks at the artistic and educational reform movements that opened the twentieth century from Italian Futurists to the influence of the Bauhaus school of design and art. How did this translate for children? By ‘stripping away extraneous elements such as historicist ornament to get back to the purest forms…’ Marvel at the simplicity of the Rietveld high chair or the stunning glass blocks by German designer Bruno Taut.

I spent a lot of time browsing the ‘Power Play’ section, which spans design during the 1960s through to the 1990s. I was a little bit nostalgic for Playmobil and seem to recall that owning my own robot was a very real possibility.

There is so much to explore on the exhibition website but if you are lucky enough to be heading to New York, Century of the Child runs until 5 November, 2012.

(via Swiss Miss)

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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