Kid size - the material world of childhood

Lottie Hoare, Crafts magazine, July/August 1998

'If only Alvar Aalto had designed a crib which our infants could lie in, awestruck, as they breathe in good design. Such babies would grow up to be visionary furniture designers. I had anticipated that such an argument had inspired Kid size. A Design Museum which itself originated from a commercial enterprise - Vitra chairs - would surely put on a show of children's furniture in order to justify the educational role of designer nurseries. Throw in IKEA as the show's main sponsor, suddenly there's the unimaginable paradox of an exhibition which questions the whole need for adults to make things for children at all. This exhibition examines the discrepancy between adult's conceptions and children's needs... a compelling display.

... The lasting impression is that all attempts to control and 'cutefy' childhood ultimately fall flat because the powerful urge to play and the consequences and learning processes that evolve from different ways of playing cannot ever be thoroughly understood by the adult mind... A deceptively simple video, Play me, ran in each gallery, splicing together images of children at play and a soundtrack of rhythmical singing. This gave the show a tremendous unity, echoing the movement in the shapes of furniture, display stands and the building itself.

... Exactly a week after visiting Kid size I found myself in London's Trocadero Sega World with my frail idealism more or less intact. Adults sit transfixed by virtual warfare, immobile except for finger twitching on buttons, while the under-fives headed for the cushioned pen filled with plastic balls. Here they leapt about with far more vigor and panache than any of the digitalised Samurai warriors they had glimpsed on screen. Just as Walter Benjamin reassures children must remake the world out of the waste their parents leave behind.'

Cristina Rouvalis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
4 May 2005

'The travelling exhibition showcases more than 130 everyday objects designed for children over the past 300 years. Museum-goers can gawk at everything from a mint-condition 1969 plastic Big Wheel (plastic wheeled tricycle) to a 1750s Louis XV child's armchair. The collection reflects the changing attitudes of parents towards children - from 'little adults' who had to be tamed, to individuals with their own way of relating to the world with their own expensive gear.'

Brad Hundt, Pittsburgh Observer, 8 May 2005

'The standard rules of the road are that you don't touch anything in a museum exhibit. But at Kid size: the material world of childhood reaching out and grabbing the goods is almost impossible to resist..When you enter, you're greeted by a vintage 1970s Big Wheel in all its red, yellow and plastic glory..Kid size isn't about art per se. Instead the exhibit explores the everyday, utilitarian objects that have been part of children's lives over the past 300 years. It encompasses everything from boxy, uncomfortable-looking 18th century cribs to a 1950s Swiss Scooter and a Radio Flyer wagon.'