'The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.' Plato
The Dowse will be awash with 'lovely things' this summer - stunning play furniture, playscapes and play-objects created by leading international designers will tempt design fanatics of all ages. The Silbery Longrun Season of Play, opening 1 December, features the work of world-renown design-heavyweights like Charles & Ray Eames, Enzo Mari, Verner Panton, Eero Aarnio as well as well-known companies like Bauhaus, Vitra, Magis and Sirch.
Play celebrates the importance of quality design for children, so often overlooked or deemed unnecessary. "The exhibition demonstrates the value the world's greatest designers place on free play and the imagination," says curator Leanne Wickham, who has spent twelve months liaising with international design companies to bring designer objects to New Zealand.
From Friedrich Froebel's (creator of 'Kindergarten') designer toys from the 1830s to contemporary pieces by Spanish hot-shot designer Javier Mariscal, Play extends beyond the Silbery Gallery with a range of contemporary objects that children can actually play on. The enormous Imagination Playground playspace by architect David Rockwell allows children to reconfigure their environment and design their own course of play – to climb, roll, rock, slide and push. Featured at MOMA and other cutting-edge museums and urban spaces across the globe, The Dowse brings the Imagination Playground to New Zealand for the first time – come and have a play!
Objects in the exhibition include a limited edition re-release of the legendary Eames plywood Elephant, designed in 1945 by Charles and Ray Eames. A toy for children, it's also a striking, sculptural object revered for its breakthrough use of moulded plywood. Only two original prototypes were made and today, only one known original remains, owned by the Eames family.
Vitra celebrated the 100th birthday of the Elephant with a polypropylene version, limited to 1000 pieces. Another Vitra design is the Panton Chair by Verner Panton. Launched in 1959, it was the first cantilevered chair made from a single piece of plastic - a technical first; the chair became Paton's most famous piece.
Danish designer Louise Campbell's Seesaw was designed for public spaces, such as lounges and waiting rooms, to encourage interaction between strangers while Villa Sibis by Sirch, is a handmade, highly modernist dollhouse by interior designer Wolfgang Sirch and sculptor Christoph Bitzer. It employs aesthetic principles based on the premise that toys should look good enough to leave out, not tidy away. From Sweden's Playsam, there's Airliner, Jetliner and Oldtimer by Ulf Hanses and Rocking Rabbit by Bjorn Dahlstrom, one of Sweden's premier furniture and industrial designers. Images of international playscapes are also part of the exhibition which runs alongside another playful exhibition, Arcade: Homegrown Video Games.
The Silbery Longrun Season of Play
The Dowse Art Museum | FREE ENTRY
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