Polish designers are bringing out furniture and toys for kids which are as pretty as they are educational. Here's Culture.pl's exclusive pick.
Products that are visually attractive and entertaining can also be functional. Hand-made goods of ecological and natural materials are pushing their mass-produced counterparts out of the market and making professions that seemed outdated relevant once again.
Here is a selection of products by Polish designers from the LET’S PLAY! Kids Design from Poland organised by Culture.pl. The exhibition opens on October 31st, 2014, in Izmir, Turkey, and lasts throughout the month.
Miuki's colourful pouffes
Designed by Agnieszka Kwiecińska, the Miuki pouffe is a multifunctional seating solution which is already popular on the Polish market. It can be an armchair, a mattress or a cushion for rehabilitation, and comes in several different colours. Sizes are chosen according to the child's age. The Jajo (Egg) version for kids and adults won the Must Have award at the Łódź Design Festival 2011.
Hug me, I'm a Bambak!
There's a whole family of felt and fleece Bambak stuffed toys: the bespectacled guitarist named Bambak, a ninja, a gangster, a mathematician, and an architect called Edward. "Bambaks are from Poland", product designer Aleksandra Trościankowska explains, "but they live all around the world, from Africa to Australia.
Plates for drawing
Ścieranki – rysowanki (Draw and wipe away) are ceramic (mostly porcelain) plates coated with a layer of chalkboard paint. The plates are made entirely from recycled material. But no, they are not edible. Designed by Alicja Patanowska.
A gorilla, a panda, a rhino and a polar bear make up this wooden community of animals, designed by Anna Bajor and produced by Tobe by Bajo.
Storage on wheels
Shaped like a hippo or a dachshund, these toys on wheels are made of wood and cardboard. Designed by Michał Bogusz for the up-and-coming brand Tobe.
This beech-wood crane called Sink Car is another toy from the The Poor Toys series. The limo brush is a cleaning tool and the clothes clip excavator is used for hanging laundry. The crane has an integrated sink plug and can be used as such. Designed by Bartosz Mucha, the artist behind Poor Design.
Boomini doll house
This plywood doll house is composed of four architectural elements with movable furniture. Boomini also has a split-level house on offer.
Magnets of different colours and shapes for both kids and adults. They can be freely assembled and played with. Look in the instruction booklet to discover how to put together an owl or a city.
Grzegorz Cholewiak's design received the Must Have award 2013 at the Lodz Design Festival and entered the Make Me! competition. The old-school toy is called Toll’s Toy Laufrad and is hand-painted. The label also makes a skipping rope and a spinning top.
Oversized cardboard lego
Created by the OdRzeczy design collective, these large format cardboard Hocko construction pieces can be freely assembled at home and outdoors. Feel free to draw and paint on and decorate them. Also available in a mini version.
Integra construction toys
This timeless set of wooden construction pieces by Integra Toys is meant to further creativity, coordination and dexterity. The set of screws, bolts and slats was designed by Bartosz Światowski.
A carpet with Swarovski crystals? A carpet made of puzzle pieces? Or perhaps a carpet of lace? These are Agnieszka Czop and Joanna Rusin's ideas. Their individual, hand-made products are now in mass production.
Lamps with animals
Mishka is a lamp with a bear and Buzy is the version with a rabbit. Designed by Kafti Design, the lampshade can be either applied to a standing or a ceiling lamp.
Wicker basket seats
This multifunctional stool (called Pleciaki) was designed by Katarzyna Herman-Janiec from Protein Design. This seat/container/toy is modelled after a countryside enamel bucket. The only difference is that this wicker is made of newspaper. The cushion patterns are inspired by traditional drawings from Zalipie (Lesser Poland Voivodeship). This product won the 2011 Must Have award.
More than a table
A classic two-in-one – a table and an educational toy. Designed by Klaudia Kuhn and produced by Interiorrecords, this unusual table teaches kids shapes, colours and how to assemble things. Composed of a folding table, four stools, and wooden construction pieces, the Bawa set received the Furniture Design Award and the Must Have award at the Łódź Design Festival.
Minimetry dolls with character
The dolls designed by Minimetry studio are as cute as they are interesting. Włodek Kotwica is an old sea wolf who's travelled the seven seas of the earth. Pani Fika is a compulsive watermelon-eater who has a fruit growing in her belly after she accidentally swallowed a seed. Pani Paki, on the other hand, adores birds and she often goes to Stawy Milickie with her family to spot cranes, herons and white-tailed eagles.
Handsewn Muc Muc dolls
Muc-Mucs are made entirely of recycled materials, and you won't find identical twins among them.
Blow-up sheet metal stool
The iconic Plopp stools are the bestsellers of Zieta Prozess design, a studio led by Poland's premier designer Oskar Zięta. The stool looks like a toy but in fact is made with innovative FiDU technology. The sheet metal stool can support up to 60kg and is available in different colour and sizes. The product won several awards: Red Dot Design Award 2008, German Design Council Award 2008 and Forum AID Award 2009.
Pana Pepe flying carpet
This cloud-shaped carpet is made of fleece and manufactured in Poland by Pana Pepe studio.
Tablecloth – Mrs Jurek's home
This hand-embroidered tablecloth was designed by Magda Jurek from Pani Jurek studio. Thanks to its length, it invites children to sit at the grown-up's table while having their own space underneath. The tablecloth was a finalist for the Must Have award at the Łódź Design Festival.
A leading expert in wooden toys, Pilch studio brought one out which teaches math, trains memory and dexterity while still being fun. For kids ages 4 and above.
Designed by Robert Czajka from Ringo studio, the series of cardboard 3D puzzles includes Cardboard City, Gas Station and Auto Repair Shop.
Folk spinning tops
A long-established toy, these spinning top are coloured like the traditional dresses of various Polish regions. Designed by Smaga Projektanci, this was an official souvenir of the Polish presidency of the EU Council in 2011.
Designer Szymon Hanczar found a solution to those wintry summers and summery winters alike – a sled on wheels called We never give up!
The flexible plywood Bunny stool fits with different interiors - minimalistic or eclectic. Designed by UAU Project for Brambla.
A stroller from Paris
This stylish doll stroller smells like the forests of the Beskidy mountains. It was produced by Woodenstory, a company founded in 1969. The doll stroller from the Montmartre series received the title of toy of the year for 2014 from the website zabawkowicz.pl.
The wooden cradle for dolls and teddies made by Woodszczęścia studio is an example of a craft product that successfully competes with mass scale goods. "Every single element is made by me from beginning to end" – says Paweł Kozak.
These memory cards have colourful pictures associated with folk culture: a cock, a hoopoe, a cat. Designed by Zuzu Toys, the cards are both in English and Polish.
Author: Agnieszka Sural, translator MJ 18/10/2014