FRANKENTOY

Chicago's FrankenToyMobile traverses the city in the summer months, encouraging "imagination and curiosity by providing free, hands-on workshops where youth and adults reuse toys as raw material for original creations." Kids are invited to deconstruct old toys and refashion them into their own unique playthings. Frankentoy's creators, artists Andrés Lemus-Spont, Marya Spont-Lemus, Louis Fernandez, and Michael Pecirno, feel this venue encourages experimentation and allows children to challenge the expected gender norms of today's toys and embrace the possibilities that lay beyond. In Chicago this summer and want to check it out? Visit their website for a full calendar. This Saturday, July 16, 2016 will find the Mobile at the Albany Park Library from 1-3p. 

GIRA

 
 Image from  maarqa.com

Image from maarqa.com

 

This fun installation, GiRA, in Porto, Portugal by the Micro Atelier de Arquitectura e Arte (MAARQA) celebrates the city's traditional midsummer festival of St. Jaoa, in which citizens greet one another with flowers and soft, plastic hammers. The sphere of hammers can be manipulated by passersby, inviting them to become an active part of the celebration and the festival's history. Perhaps most importantly, MAARQA feels this public object infuses the city with a feeling of play and whimsy. Visit the firm's website to see more photos of GiRA and and read about their other fascinating installations. 

SUZY SNOOZE

 Image via  bleepbleeps.com

Image via bleepbleeps.com

How cute and smart is this nightlight/baby monitor/sleep trainer by one of our fav family tech companies, BleepBleeps? Currently on KickstarterSuzy Snooze, solves a myriad of common nighttime problems. For babies through preschoolers, the cute bedside light play gentle music and throws soft light to lull your little one to sleep. With a built in audio monitor than can be linked to parents' phones, Suzy Snooze offers peace of mind. And what do grown-ups love best? Suzy can help with sleep training - her hat moves up and down to signal to toddlers when it's ok to get up and when it's time to stay in bed. Check out BleepBleeps full line of sleek, helpful technology on their website and support them on Kickstarter

OPEN FORM ARCHITECTURE

 Image from  openform.ca

Image from openform.ca

We're digging this dreamy early childhood center in Montreal by French Canadian firm Open Form Architecture. Both practical and beautiful, the stunning entranceway provides not only a magical pathway for little ones, but also directs the traffic of children and caregivers, with room for strollers and safe queues up and away from the busy street. The iridescent glass panels covering the stairwell are reminiscent of soap bubbles and the long, flat stairs themselves were inspired by Montreal's step-laden streetscape. The architects consider the piece to be "a contemporary expression that reflects both the social function of the building and the role of this institution in the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and cultural development of the child, the generation of tomorrow."

BANKSY SAYS THANKS

 Image via  telegraph.co.uk

Image via telegraph.co.uk

We're charmed by this mischievous mural left by enigmatic artist Banksy for schoolchildren in in Bristol, England earlier this month. The students at Bridge Farm School recently renamed a house after the muralist, as part of a project to celebrate noted local figures. The children were delighted to find the mural upon their return from holiday, accompanied by a sweet, yet cheeky, note reading, “Please have a picture. If you don’t like it feel free to add stuff, I’m sure the teachers won’t mind. Remember — it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission. Much love.” This children have been inspired by the mural to create and display their own art at school, home, and beyond. 

THE WHITNEY: KIDS SKETCH!

 Image from  whitney.org

Image from whitney.org

This weekend at the Whitney, check out this month's sketching tour, Distortion & Abstraction, for families with kids ages 6-10. This month's event explores two current exhibits, Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection and June Leaf: Thought Is Infinite, and the myriad of unexpected ways in which artists depict the human figure. The workshop will be help on Saturday, June 4, 2016, from 10-11am. Tickets are $5 per child, plus the cost of admission. 

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Ganesvoort Street in New York City. 

MOMA & FELTRO

Looking for spring break activities in the city next week? Our friends at Feltro will present "Create, Build, and Play" at MoMA on Monday, April 25th, 2016 from 11am-1pm. These fun, oversized magnetic felt tiles can be used to create anything from a one-of-a-kind playhouse to imagination-inspiring costumes! We love this cool product that "bridges the gap between toy and home decor."

Sign up for the event begins at 10:30am in the Cullman Education and Research Building lobby located at 4 West 54th Street in New York City. Tickets are first-come, first-serve and admission is included with your museum entrance ticket.

ACCADEMIA DEI BAMBINI

 Image from  fondazioneprada.org

We’re enthralled by the Accademia dei Bambini, the Fondazione Prada’s first project just for kids. This fascinating independent structure can take on a myriad of configurations, depending on the event or activity hosted within. It was developed by neuropediatrician Giannetta Ottilia Latis and designed by architecture students from the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Versailles. The foundation has created an “an independent structure equipped with everything it needs to conduct multidisciplinary activities, not strictly connected with art exhibitions, but also open to intergenerational dialogue and debate related to pedagogical–cultural issues to be experienced through gameplay, creativity, learning and exchange.” Artists, educators, scientists, and more are invited as “masters” to conduct inspiring, hands-on workshops in their craft for children and families. April and May 2016 workshops, entitled "Erbari Vagabondi" will be taught by landscape artist Marianna Merisi and explore painting the flora and fauna of the natural world.

The Accademia dei Bambini at the Fondazione Prada Milan (Largo Isarco 2) is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-5pm. All activities are free and open to the public.

EERO AARNIO

 
 Eero Aarnio. Image from  designmuseum.fi

Eero Aarnio. Image from designmuseum.fi

 

Heading to Helsinki? Don't miss Eero Aarnio's retrospective, on display through September 25, 2016 at the Design Museum Helsinki. This extensive retrospective celebrates Aarnio's playful, yet stunningly chic style, with rare pieces from his personal collection. The 83 year old designer's work defined the mid-century "space age" design, while celebrating the optimistic youth culture of the 60s and 70s. kM loves his functional, fantastical pieces for children (can we get an original "Puppy" for the office, please?) and we are fascinated by the insights into his unique design process explored in the show.

The Designmuseo is located at Korkeavuorenkatu 23 in Helsinki. The museum is closed Mondays. Visit their website to plan your trip.

FURIA

 Image from  designfront.org

Image from designfront.org

Inspired by Gebruder Thonet's Vienna Rocking Chair, the Furia is a playful and whimsical take on the classic design. Both a functional play object and beautiful piece of sculptural design, it incorporates the traditional bent plywood with a soft leather seat and cheeky ears. The rocker is designed by Swedish group Front, known for their fantastic, narrative design, for Gebruder Thonet Vienna. 

KARTELL KIDS

 Image from  kartell.com

Image from kartell.com

We are loving Italian brand Kartell's first kid's collection, launching next week in Milan at the Salone di Mobile. Kartell uses vibrant and pastel hues, combined with simple silhouettes and classic materiality, in this collection designed by international stars. Japanese firm Nendo delights with a minimalist rocking horse and "smile" bench; Italian architect Piero Lissoni's toy car and tractor are nostalgic, yet fresh; and French designer Philippe Starck's "Airway" swing is both playful and chic. See all the new pieces on Kartell's website and be sure to check it out in Milan - we know we will!

OPEN STUDIO AT THE WHITNEY!

  Shelf Life.  Matthew Cerletty. Image via  whitney.org

Shelf Life. Matthew Cerletty. Image via whitney.org

With spring weather here, head over to the Whitney Museum of American Art this weekend. Saturday and Sunday's open studio with artist Matthew Cerletty explores everyday objects that may seem ordinary to a stranger, but are important to a family or individual. Families will be invited by the artist to create artworks based on their own special object.  Cerletty's landscapes and still lives combine traditional techniques with playful and unexpected subject matter. His work is currently on display in the Flatlands exhibit through April 17, 2016.

Open Studio: Matthew Cerletty. For kids of all ages. April 2-3, 2016. 10:30am-3pm. Free with museum admission. The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Ganesvoort Street in New York City.

GIVING BACK: MINU PAULINE

 Photo via  upworthy.com

Photo via upworthy.com

While we're all about using design to solve problems in the home, we love when people apply creative thinking to all kinds of issues, both small and large. We were inspired by this Upworthy story about Minu Pauline, a feisty Indian entrepreneur and restaurateur who noticed how many hungry people would dig through the trash outside of her shop looking for a sustaining morsel. Realizing how much food she, her staff, and their customers wasted everyday, Pauline installed a fully functional fridge outside of the restaurant, stocking it with enough leftovers to feed 200 to 300 people every day. Soon the whole community was bringing by food that would otherwise go to waste. A simple solution by a strong woman that elegantly combats hunger and waste? We dig it.

TAKERU TOYOKURA

 
 Image from  hcn.zaq.ne.jp

Image from hcn.zaq.ne.jp

 

We can't look away from these engaging felt and paper compositions by Japanese artist Takeru Toyokura. A bit nostalgic and very surreal, each dynamic and intricate piece evokes a child's engagement with the world, through play or experience, but with a very dark twist. From fantastic cityscapes to dangerous escapades, we're fascinated by Toyokura's interpretation of childhood fantasy and reality. Visit his website to see more images from all four series: Children Scene,Children Wonder, Japanese Mind, and Children Revolution and check out his Behance page for a step-by-step reveal of his unique process.