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Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000 Hardcover – August 31, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


This is the first published survey of the 20th-century design for children. And what an amazing publication! Taking inspiration from Ellen Key's Century of the Child (1900), this book bridges the gap between childhood and progressive design by examining individual and collective works from the world of children. Kinchin and O'Connor (both, MOMA) cover toys, books, games, and playgrounds, but also furniture, safety equiptment, and architecture, providing an exceptional overview of the history of design for the past 100 years. The book illustrates how designing for children stimulated creative freedom and encouraged experimental aesthetics... Beautiful illustrations accompany every section. An easy-to-use index and an extensive list of references are included. Given its multidiscliplinary content, this volume is a must for any collection. Art students will love it, and students involved with history, politics, health, child studies, and communication-- just to mention a few other discliplines-- will discover unique information about the world of children. (A. Zanin-Yost Choice 2012-12-01)

Kids had it good in the 20th century. Designers gave them revolutionary playthings like Lego and Tinkertoys and the Rubik's Cube, made to be both fun and good for them. Geniuses like Frank Lloyd Wright gave them deluxe schools "We're looking at principles and issues that take us to the core of thinking about creativity in every aspect of our culture," says Juliet Kinchin MoMA's curator of modern design. "You really see how fundamental design and children are to the modern world." In the tumult of the last century, governments left and right, democratic and tyrannical, invested lavishly in children and their spaces, as a way to seize the future and plant the national flag there [Kinchin's] exhibition lays out how the children's "colonies" of fascist Italy and the kindergartens of the Soviet Union each housed their charges in shiny modern structures, away from the old-fashioned views and tastes of their parents. Schoolkids, both receptive and captive, were the ideal audiences for radical modern ideas and objects Kinchin's show puts the Sputnik playgrounds of Czechoslovakia beside Barbie's Dream House and the wooden toys of Creative Playthings to give a picture of a culture where children were separate, but better. (Blake Gopnik Newsweek 2012-07-23)

"It is something of a cliché to state that children are the future, but for modernist designers with a clear vision of the society and values they wanted to shape, children have been an obvious starting point," says [MoMA's "Century of the Child"] curator Juliet Kinchin Over the last 100 years or so, the idea of the "modern child" was shaped by the same forces that shaped the rest of society: industrialization, urbanization, and consumerism...This may be the single most important, overriding dynamic regarding design for children from the early 20th century to today: Adults create new products for kids and kids, in turn, create new worlds. (Steven Heller The Atlantic 2012-07-19)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York (August 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870708260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870708268
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 9.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zorro-Mother on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is an impressive appendix to the MoMa exibition, which exists as an interesting book by its own. With reliable text, good quality illustrations and expanded topics connected with children's culture. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
To better understand the role of Froebel and the development of the kindergarten this book is essential. Froebel believed children should be nurtured like flowers in a garden and taught about the world around them at a young age. (Kindergarten is a German word meaning children’s garden.)

Froebel was convinced that children could learn about the universe, nature, and life by playing with blocks. He often packaged the blocks with sticks and colored paper and marketed them as “gifts.” In Froebel’s kindergarten, children would create buildings, furniture, and whatever they could imagine using the “gifts.” Not all of the blocks were rectangular; some were round, triangular and even cylindrical. Certain blocks could be attached to strings, which hung from a wooden apparatus like a trapeze.
This book helped us better understand Froebel's influence on Frank Lloyd Wright and the importance of early education for our forthcoming book "Frank Lloyd Wright: The Man who Played with Blocks, A Short Illustrated Biography."
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