Wow. I've never felt too bad for not giving the kid her own 2,000 square feet to run and play in. Until now. StudioUK has launched Play+Soft [you pronounce the '+'], a 200+piece series of early childhood learning objects and spaces, that shows as much attention to aesthetics as it does to pedagogy and imaginative play. Play+Soft was designed with ZPZ Partners and a whole host of international designers, and emerged from Play+, an ongoing research and consultation project with Reggio Children, a public-private firm set up to promote the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning.
A crawl-in kaleidoscope? A movable, soft cactus garden playmat [reversible, too]? A set of walls that can make forts, doors, or windows or that can be a whole cube? Or one that can become a sphere? A playmat that turns into sofas and other spaces? The Reggio Emilia philosophy considers a kid's environment to be his "third teacher." So if it's the hot, Italian one, all the better, right?
Quant'e importante che i bambini e gli adulti vivano la giornata in un abiente dove il colori gli oggetti siano sceltie e disposti con cura, attenzione, amore? Che abbiano a disposizione spazi nei quali la sensibilita estetica sia percepita e faccia parte del vivere quotidiano? Luoghi nei quali, come tanti pensatori e filosofi ci ricordano, l'aspirazione al bello sia finalmente riconosciuta e funzioni come un tessuto connettore che dona sguardi piu attenti e cpapcita relazionali ed empatiche a do che ci circonda? ...La cura che si pone nei progettare gli ambienti e indicative dell'immagine di bambino che sottende una filosofial pedagogica.Couldn't have said it better myself.
OK, here's the translation:
How important is it for children and adults to spend their days in an environment where the colors and objects are selected and arranged with care, attention, and love? To have spaces in which the aesthetic sensibility is perceived and is part of everyday life? Places in which, as many thinkers and philosophers have reminded us, the aspiration to beauty is finally recognized and acts as a connective tissue that produces a more attentive eye and an empathic relationship in regard to that which surrounds us?...The care taken in designing spaces is indicative of the image of the child that underlies the pedagogical philosophy.Play+Soft is distributed in the UK and Europe now, and is available worldwide at UK prices.
See more Play+Soft objects and spaces at StudioUK.net [studiouk.net via swissmiss]
Slideshow of some Play+ incorporated into a preschool in Modena [studiouk.net]
The quote's from "The right to beauty" by Via Vecchi [scroll down for pdf]