November 23, 2020
Metropolis Gift Guide 2020: Play
This holiday season, Metropolis’s editors are highlighting our picks for the best design-minded gifts.
The best toys aren’t just for kids. They’re for the young designer in all of us. The following selection of games, puzzles, and toys will add playfulness and good design to your holiday season.
Backgammon is believed to be one of humanity’s oldest games. Archeologists have found remains of the classic triangle-festooned boards and similar table games throughout ancient Mesopotamia. This set, adorned with Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature geometric patterns is hardly a relic, but it still has the power to transport. For fans of the flamboyant designer, the gold foil game box and board can add a bit of Prairie School style to any living room or card table.
The right puzzle can help while away the long, socially distanced evenings of this holiday season. This one, designed by Brian Donnelly who is known professionally as KAWS, may also inspire some cheer. The original featured an unconventional pattern and shape that references street art, public sculpture, painting, and brand partnerships. It has appeared in the world’s great museums, street corners and as consumer objects. Now it’s also a fun challenge for the whole family, with 1,000 pieces and no corners. A screen-free way to stay busy that pays you back when complete, as a work of expressive, pop-culture-inflected art.
Can’t take the little ones to a museum this year? Bring the museum to them with the Museum Tour Playset. The kit is available in “Modernism” and “Classics” editions, which have the added benefit of teaching kids about great works of art using an engaging and educational game. The board and book highlight works by Frida Kahlo, Piet Mondrian, and Vincent Van Gogh.
Frank Gehry wasn’t the only one to see the potential of a cardboard box. With kids around the country logging into school from home, the folks at Chairigami have developed a clever easy-to-assemble desk that kids can set up themselves virtually anywhere. The remote-learning desk is available in two sizes: small for kids 6–9, and large for kids 9–12. Made of cardboard, its also lightweight and easy to move. Best of all, the fast furniture can be decorated with young scholars’ own drawings and paintings.
Houses, cars, trains, cities, fish and whole suburban subdivisions. With Cardkits, it is possible to build a complete tabletop community. The company’s paper cutouts recall the paper dolls of yore, except they’re three dimensional resemble toy towns. The kits provide a satisfying reward to dexterity, focus, and time spent offline.
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