Play: Toys, Sets, Rules

Photos by Alin Kovacs

London, Walter Knoll

Children produce themselves as individual and social beings through imaginative activity. As Jean Paiget said "Play is the serious business of children". A similar idea of self-realisation through making and doing could apply just as well to the activity of adults as to what children get up to when the adults are working. In the 1960s and ‘70s a number of designers began to re-think the kind of objects that children need to play well, seeking to recast their own work as designers along similar lines. This resulted in a set of extraordinarily generous, humane and beautiful objects — some of which remain; and a radical project to transform social life by altering two of its fundamental categories, education and work — now largely forgotten.

Play is an exhibition of toys drawn from the personal archives of their designers, Roger Limbrick, Patrick Rylands, Fredun Shapur and Ken Garland, a loosely associated group that emerged in London in the 1960s. A further number of continental designs from the same period have been lent to the exhibition from the collection of Marion Hine, also a contributing designer. Although many of these designers have been published and exhibited individually, this exhibition is the first time their works have been united as a group. Play offers a unique survey of late modernist approaches to child development and design and, as such, a variety of ways in which we might think of both play and design as formative and speculative activities.

Play is part of a programme of exhibitions and events commissioned by Walter Knoll and produced and curated by systems. Walter Knoll are funding the production of Play and hosting the exhibition in their London showroom.

5 June 2015 - 3 July 2015

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