October 27, 2008

Partisan Hack, Or Thou Shalt Not Commit Kidultery


You know, when I started this post last week, it was going to be a self-righteous sermon against the evils of kidultery and how, when nominal adults get all fixated on designing toys for their own amusement and not kids, they either visualize themselves into some sentimentalized fantasy world, or they prattle on with empty intellectualizing, the kind of stuff that wouldn't pass muster during a smokeout in the freshman dorms. But then I said, screw it, just let them speak for themselves:

Maria Horn's Partisan is a set of "Socio-Political Playthings" which debuted last May to mark the launch of the New York design agency Bond:

Partisan is a trio of three-dimensional puzzles comprised of interlocking positive and negative pieces, representing, respectively, power, energy and religion. A player can explore and materialize various global issues through different assemblies and combinations of the puzzle elements. For example, the sum of all the positive pieces creates a dove of peace; the sum of all the negative pieces creates a weapon of war. This form of constructive play encourages users to engage and involve themselves in world issues in a non-confrontational manner.
Insufferably simplistic and self-important, sure, but it seemed like par for the course for an agency that sees its deliverable not just as "design," but as "a catalyst for change," which shifts "focus away from the idea of consumption as a sole end purpose for a product and toward a transformative process"--but whose clients--brands like Swarovski, Moet & Chandon, and MarquisJets--are merely remoras in the luxury industry's shark tank.

Here's more from Horn's brief Q&A in Moco Loco last week , solipsistic nonsense about actual toys, like, for kids:

In addition to creating a statement on world affairs and the way we govern ourselves, do you have a point of view on action toys and games?

Action figures are foremost representations, embodiments of power and/or gender roles -G. I. Joe or Barbie types-
There is an ongoing surge of extremely "individual" action figures, to even toys you can totally customize.... People buy them because they identify with these objects.
All those figures play in the idea of puppets to a master; a supreme consciousness given by the user. All cultures have these types of representations and games. We have evil and good in those representations; archetypes of social standards.That materialization of values is what I find extremely interesting as a tool to engage people with very relevant global issues. That level of awareness might help to challenge the status quo.

Now granted, nothing she says is actionably false; it's just utterly simplistic, and has nothing to do with children, toys, or actual play, and everything to do with the echoing inside of a designer's head.

May 2008: Bond | Joe Doucet [notcot, which has sure had a ton of Moet-related fluffery lately. coincidence?]
2 (or 3) Questions for Maria Horn [mocoloco]

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