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TOYS - "precursors to serious ideas": The Toys of Charles and Ray Eames

Updated: May 18, 2018

If you want to know a little bit about where noook has come from, take a look at the work, and especially the toys, of Charles and Ray Eames.

Often celebrated as some of the most influential designers of the twentieth century, Charles and Ray Eames spanned art, architecture, design, film, photography and yes, even toys. Many of their toys, like the Eames Elephant, are still admired, produced and played with today... and, surprisingly, what makes the Eames toys so interesting is not just how fun they are (although they certainly are!), but also how immensely serious their intent.

“Toys are not really as innocent as they look." Charles said of play, "Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas”.

Just like Froebel, Montessori and Piaget before them, the Eames saw play as "the work of the child", and toys as tools for this. Not just frivolous things of fun, but objects of genuine social, cultural and educational importance... so they designed toys with the same care and consideration as they would a chair, clock or indeed a house. As a designer, I even think the Charles and Ray saw a direct similarity between the play of a child and the playful experiments they might make in their design studio. Both of which "prelude serious ideas".

What I take away from the Eames toys is two-fold. Firstly a belief in the importance of play. Good play is key to a child's development, and this needs to be fostered. And secondly, because play is so important, the design of its toys is equally important too.



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