hravo’s First Collection

Viera Kleinová

Michala Lipková has situated her project in the puppet theatre setting. The figures of the miniature wooden theatre are based on Kyjatice toys, one of the few original Slovak products whose manufacture has survived to this day, even if to a very limited extent. Kyjatice toys are today produced only by a few manufacturers, working from the traditional formal and decorative repertoire. A designer’s intervention in this field is in my view an important shift, especially as a stimulus in the segment of so-called folk manufacture, where production is mostly conducted in terms of repeating original patterns. The story of the Kyjatice toys has a present-day interest for this reason also, that there was targeted support for their production. The home-based and craft production of toys from Kyjatice goes back to the end of the 19th century, when local craftsmen who were producing furniture also began to manufacture toys, which soon became articles of interest for buyers. After the formation of the First Republic, however, the original markets were disrupted and their sales began to sink. In the 1920s a new era for Kyjatice toys began when the state began to support their original manufacture and Kyjatice became one of the largest producers of toys in Slovakia. After World War II a further period of depression set in, though some craftsmen continued their production. Michala Lipková links up with the tradition of Kyjatice toys mainly through the characteristic circular ornamentation; she also retains the toys’ colourfulness, while giving the figures, in contrast to the traditionally static Kyjatice toys, the capacity of movement. As if the circles and straight lines graven into the surface of the wood had the ability to come to life. And as should be the case in a proper theatre, there is also a (paper) stage set, on which children can retell a legendary story by various means.

Mathematical thinking is something that not all children necessarily find easy. How to bring a child who’s learning mathematics beyond his fears: that’s the problem. Ondrej Gavalda tries to solve with his Star of Time construction set. Designed for children of pre-school and school age, it is based on the communication of mathematical information through geometrical form and colour and seeking their mutual connotations. The child thus creates a kind of memory track and a prefiguration of numerical relationships, in the form of visual perception. Essentially the game is reminiscent of the old children’s kaleidoscopes, where one saw a variety of geometrical pictures appearing in the viewing slot. In this case, however, the person who directs these works of geometry is the child himself.

How many of the world’s flags do you know? Can you say, for example, how Holland’s flag looks, or Venezuela’s? Would you like to create your own flag? The flag as a specific pictorial motif has its rules and principles, and threfore to a certain extent its form has a canonical character. That was one reason why the author of the Flags jigsaw, Karol Trnovský, was able to base his work on geometrical sections. By varying those, one can produce not just specific but also imaginary flags. For the child this game is an opportunity to get to know the systems of coloured geometrical forms and images. Even if children from 4 upwards do not appreciate play so much as a means of getting to know countries, the game is probably more relevant for schoolgoers. It is an interesting way of sharpening the pictorial memory and storing visual signs.

I see the hravo project as a very necessary initiative. It could be the logical connector which gives a designer’s proposal access to the manufacturers’ and sellers’ milieu. As a means of promoting high-quality design, combined with a fully worked-out communication and marketing strategy it could be one of the best ways of making a wider public aware of local design. The wooden toy, historically and culturally well-founded in Slovakia, is a well-chosen type, though considering its demanding production and the competition from other materials, especially plastic, it will probably be destined mainly for the knowledgeable and exacting customer.

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