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Forgotten 1960s toys are remembered at this London exhibition

In the 1960s and '70s a number of designers began to re-think the kind of objects that children required to play (and thus learn) with. As Jean Piaget said, "play is the serious business of children".

Above, Four-Way Blocks, Fredun Shapur 1972, Creative Playthings

'Play: Toys, Sets, Rules' is brought about by London Studio Systems  and brings together toys from the personal archives of their designers - a loosely associated group that emerged in London in the 1960s.

Above left, Zic-Zag, Fredun Shapur 1980, produced by Kurt Naef; Right, Serpentino, Fredun Shapur 1980, produced by Kurt Naef

The exhibition, which is part of the 2015 London Festival of Architecture offers a unique survey of late modernist approaches to child development and design, and provokes a discussion around play as formulative and speculative activity.

Above, Cube tray, designer unknown c. 1970, producer unknown

The play objects are indeed beautiful and finely crafted and could stand proudly displayed on a mantel piece in addition to offering curious interactment.

Above left, Sechseck Legespeil by Viereck Legespeil and Fünfeck Legespiel, designer unknown c.-1960 ;Right, Polyroly, Roger Limbrick 1968, produced by Polypops Products Ltd

The various toys on exhibit include themes of modularity (with blocks and interslotting components) to build any imaginable structure, furniture, or machine; geometric puzzles - such as the cube tray and the Sechseck Legespeil and marbles.

Above, Polidoblocs, Dr Margaret Lowenfeld c. 1950, produced by ESA

All featuring bold colours and natural materials. The toys are reminiscent of Froebels 'gifts' inducing both an appreciation of form and of creative thought in the curious child.

Above left, Plytek Stool, Ken Garland + Associates c.1965, unrealised prototype; Right, Interslot, Roger Limbrick c.1964, produced by Roger Limbrick Associates

If you're in London, go check it out!



WORKSHOPS: Accompanying the exhibition is a series of free workshops for children aged 7-12 years in craft activity, allowing their creative imaginations to run wild. To book a place, email


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