Design

The First-Ever Design Week Dedicated to Children Begins Today in Milan

by Tasbeeh Herwees

April 14, 2015
Photo via Twitter user Uovokids (@Uovokids)

The French philosopher Roland Barthes, in his famous book of essays, Mythologies, once grumpily criticized the world of children’s toys, lambasting them as unimaginative and banal reproductions of the adult world. “Faced with this world of faithful and complicated objects, the child can only identify himself as owner, as user, never as creator,” wrote Barthes. “He does not invent the world, he uses it: there are, prepared for him, actions without adventure, without wonder, without joy.”

Like most French philosophers, Barthes got a little wordy in his prosecution of children’s toys, but the guy had a point. More than half a decade later, you can’t walk through a children’s toy aisle without being underwhelmed by the tedious display of endless sameness. This week, however, designers from all over the world descend on Milan to attend Kids Design Week, the first-ever design week committed to children’s design—and kids are invited, too.

“Designing for children means taking up a challenge, fighting standardisation, creating objects which encourage (rather than hinder) the spontaneous heterogeneity of approaches of the youngest,” the organizers announced in their press release. “Kids Design Week aims to celebrate those who have taken up this challenge, gathering together and promoting an exchange among many of those who, in different parts of the world and in different ways, think it is important to trace sensible lines around the first, uncertain but precious steps of the littlest ones.”

Among the featured exhibitors are innovator toymakers like PCM, a Spanish design studio which produces toys that are “simple, smart” in design. Their toys are subtly designed, with minimal ornamentation, to allow room for the children’s imagination. 

Image by PCM.

The convention, which begins today, takes place at Milan’s National Museum of Science and Technology. Designers and children will be able to partake in day-to-day activities like “DO WRITE ON THE FLOOR!!”, which is exactly what it sounds like, and “A READY TO WEAR HOUSE : HOW TO BUILD AN OUTFIT TO LIVE IN (USING BOXES, FABRICS AND...)”, which is also exactly what it sounds like. There will also be workshops and lectures for designers and toy-makers on the agenda. 

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The First-Ever Design Week Dedicated to Children Begins Today in Milan