May 14, 2007

Paper Or Plastic?


This is what I was planning to post about when I got sidetracked with the Grand Pronouncement. One other thing that's appealing about rooting around in the so-not-musty online archives of design magazines is the sense of control and freedom it gives. No publicists Polycell are asking if I 'd like to try samples or whether I'll be by the Reed Paper Group booth at ICFF this weekend to check out their cardboard children's furniture designs--because the stuff came out 40 years ago. [Here's a color photo--whoa, alongside a sweet foil-covered cardboard rocket--from 1969.] Another thing I like: the idea of buying a nice, modernist kid's chair for twelve shillings sixpence [whatever that is].


Two's a trend. In 1968, Design featured German designer Peter Raacke's Papp collection of cardboard furniture for kids [and others], which was based on a hexagonal module. Manufacturing credit goes to Faltmobel Ellen Raacke [sounds like a family affair.]


All of which must have been enough to drive Peter Murdoch crazy. He designed his Those Things line of hexagonal cardboard kid's furniture way back in 1966, when he was still a student at Royal College of Art. Still, Perspective Designs was able to sell a reported 76,000 of Those Things in the first six months.


Still, if I had to choose a single piece of 60's-era cardboard kid's furniture to put back into production, here it is: an awesome folding screen with various cutout shapes and geometric patterns printed on it, designed for Danese by Enzo Mari. Waitaminnit, forget production; it's Enzo Mari! If someone just dropped this into Illustrator as a vector drawing and a blueprint, we could print it up ourselves.


And lest you think all the kid furniture back then was being made from recycled cardboard by German hippies, British students, and Italian Marxist DIY radicals, I'll point you to this near-perfect storm of an opening sentence from Design, 1970 that would--if they had them, of course--warm the hearts of Baby Industrial Complex fans the world over: "Monsanto have developed a range of learning products for young children."

Polycell Child's Play furniture: Design journal, issue 228, 1967 []
Papp cardboard furniture by Peter Raacke, Design archive, issue 232, 1968
Those Things cardboard furniture by Peter Murdoch, Design archive, issue 233, 1968
Enzo Mari cardboard nursery screen for Danese, Design archive, Issue 233, 1968


Check out the "foil-coated space rocket" with the insides printed with dials and circuits! Awesome. Blows away any of that Nume stuff from the DWR clearance rack.

There was one of those Enzo Mari nursery screens on eBay last year. I stopped watching after it went over $700.

Is it just me, or does it look like those children are locked in a safe place where psychotic tots are removed from society so as not to do harm?

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this.

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