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Wood is Good: 8 ‘Unfashionable’ Wooden Toys

It is perhaps with age and a modicum of wisdom that I now appreciate the true value of good design. Made to last, it transcends the fickle nature of fast fashion, embodying a sense of permanence, quality and integrity. I believe we must face up to the challenge of combating our propensity to throw away and over-consume, educating children and adults alike that natural materials are in ever-increasingly short supply. As large corporations work to direct our minds towards the approaching festive season, now is a perfect time to reassess our own moral code and think about how we will spend that hard-earned cash.

With this in mind, wood is indeed good. Would I have appreciated the wooden toys and objects in this article when I was a kid? In all probability, no. And yet here I am espousing the merits of good design and ergo, buying better. While the majority of kids are unlikely to appreciate a well-designed wooden object on the morning of December 25th, it’s all a matter of small and determined steps.

Nunu

Designed by Steffen Juul for Danish brand Woud, Nunu the elephant is winsome, simple and enchanting. Made from solid oak and available in two sizes, Nunu is an expressive piece whose being was inspired by the age-old tradition of Danish architects and designers making aesthetic wooden objects.

RELATED: Kay Bojesen: Smiling on Danish Design

Nunu by Steffen Juul.
Nunu by Steffen Juul.
Nunu by Steffen Juul.
Nunu by Steffen Juul.
Nunu by Steffen Juul.
Nunu by Steffen Juul.

Images courtesy of Woud.

Permafrost

Norway is a country powered and empowered by nature and a vast wealth of natural resources. The nation has capitalised on its good fortune, finding prosperity in oil and shipping and enjoying the beauty of its extensive archipelagos. Oslo-based industrial design studio Permafrost has captured these Norwegian traits in a series of wooden toys: Offshore, Shipping and Archipelago.

RELATED: The Art of Play: Toys for Design Lovers

Offshore includes an oil rig, oil tanker and helicopter.
Offshore includes an oil rig, oil tanker and helicopter.
Shipping includes a fishing boat, barge, oil tanker mini, submarine and tug boat.
Shipping includes a fishing boat, barge, oil tanker mini, submarine and tug boat.
Archipelago includes a fishing boat, lighthouse, beacon, island house and skerry.
Archipelago includes a fishing boat, lighthouse, beacon, island house and skerry.

Images courtesy of Permafrost.

Blockitecture®

Designed by Chicago-born James Paulius for Areaware, Blockitecture® is a clever and creative set of architectural building blocks made using New Zealand pine. Sets include Garden City, Habitat and Factory, in a range of blocks and colours.

Blockitecture® Garden City.
Blockitecture® Garden City.
Blockitecture® Habitat.
Blockitecture® Habitat.
Blockitecture® Factory.
Blockitecture® Factory.

Images courtesy of Areaware.

Posable Wooden Animals

Hattie the elephant, Hanno the gorilla and Ursa the bear are three posable wooden animals from Areaware. Each striking object is made using beech. Durable and delightful, Hattie, Hanno and Ursa are fun individual characters.

Hattie the elephant.
Hattie the elephant.
Hanno the gorilla.
Hanno the gorilla.
Ursa the bear.
Ursa the bear.

Images courtesy of Areaware.

Noe

Designed and made by Fumihiko Koyama for his Japanese wooden toy brand Mastro Geppetto, the Noe wooden animal toys were born from the fabled Noah’s Ark. Beautiful and simple, the Noe collection of animals are perfect for bath time when they release a relaxing Hinokitiol wood scent.

RELATED: Stylish Children’s Toys That Can Double as Decor

Noe wooden animal toys. Image © Monocle.
Noe wooden animal toys. Image © Monocle.
Noe wooden animal toys. Image via ePloof.
Noe wooden animal toys. Image via ePloof.

Pol-eno

Based in Liberec, a city in the Czech Republic, Pol-eno is a small studio creating unique and individual wooden toys. Handcrafted by Andrea Tůmová and Štěpán Kadlec, each toy is made to order in a wood of choice. The results are truly endearing and enduring.

Forester: a collection for little Ester.
Forester: a collection for little Ester.
Pol-eno:  christmas collection 2013.
Pol-eno:  christmas collection 2013.
Elg: designed for a Norwegian family.
Elg: designed for a Norwegian family.
New whale: New wave.
New whale: New wave.

Ja-Ja

Designed and made by Danish cabinetmakers The Oak Men (namely Anders Buchtrup Jensen and Peter Hensberg), Ja-Ja is crafted in solid oak and ready to be taken for a spin. Symbols have been added to create an element of surprise, inspiring curiosity and a positive mindset.

Ja-Ja by The Oak Men.
Ja-Ja by The Oak Men.
Ja-Ja unfurled.
Ja-Ja unfurled.

Images © The Oak Men.

Hippo

Danish craftsman Kay Bojesen (1886 – 1958) began to explore a passion for wood in the 1930s, creating some of Danish design’s finest legacy pieces. King of the wooden toy, Bojesen’s objects are charming and full of character. He designed the Hippo in 1955 in order to have somewhere to store his pencil. Today, an updated version of Bojesen’s Hippo, made from beech and painted with blackboard paint, provides a fun way of making notes at one’s desk.

Kay Bojesen's Hippo painted with blackboard paint. Image via Eye Shut Island.
Kay Bojesen’s Hippo painted with blackboard paint. Image via Eye Shut Island.
Kay Bojesen's Hippo painted with blackboard paint. Image via Designers-Avenue.
Kay Bojesen’s Hippo painted with blackboard paint. Image via Designers-Avenue.

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