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