Mini labo: adorable soft toys, decals and more
June 25, 2008, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Accessories, Stationery, Toys and games | Tags: , , , , , ,

Bonjour tout le monde 🙂 I decided that I will be dedicating today’s posts to beautiful French products and will kick right of with Mini Labo‘s fabulous items. They produce beautifully printed pillows, cuddly soft toys (or doudous, as the French call them), screenprinted posters, wall decals and even bags, badges and notebooks! The wonderful Mini Labo style includes ornate flower and bird prints with a vintage feel, but they also have signature fawn and dog designs among others.

Take a look at their notebooks and bags, so many beautiful designs to choose from.

Aren’t Mini Labo’s soft toys just beautiful? So colorful and cute, they include a whole range, whose creation was partly inspired by Alice in Wonderland (from top left to bottom right): le lapin d’Avril (the April rabbit), le chat sourit (the smiling cat), love cat, Simon and le nouveau lapin d’Avril (the new April rabbit)
.

But Mini Labo also has beautiful pillows, the ‘il y a un arbre’ (there’s a tree) cushion is my favorite:

And last but not least, Mini Labo’s beautiful wall stickers,wouldn’t they look great in combination with the Roost birdcage lamp I blogged about earlier?

The whole collection is available at Mes habits chéris, one of the few French onlineshops with an English website. All of the doudous, except for the Simon the bear, can also be bought at Ahbookids.



Vintage book bags by Miniséri
June 25, 2008, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Accessories, Decor, Picks for Grown-ups, Toys and games | Tags: , , ,

I know it’s only summer now, but back to school sales start much earlier than fall. So if you want to spice up your kids’ school supplies and are looking for some really out of the ordinary bags with a French vintage feel to them, I have the perfect items for you here. And even better: there are also great totes, satchels and other items for adults, not just for kids! I bet the bigger ones would make great diaper bags, too!


Miniséri is a very young company, whose first collection was only presented in January 2007. They produce a range of children’s accessories, mainly bags of all kinds and sizes, from book bags to lunch bags, handbags, shoulder bags… They are all beautifully crafted, most are in leather, and many also have French prints on the top flap.


Available at Mes habits chéris. Big bookbag (grand cartable) €90.00, small bookbag (petit cartable) €65.00, mini bookbag/purse (mini cartable) €80.00 (leather) €49.00 (fabric)



Language Littles, learn Chinese with Ling
June 24, 2008, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Toys and games | Tags: , ,

It is always said that young children are the most capable of learning foreign languages, and that education should be fun. Language Littles are a product that really excel in both categories. These dolls are simply cute and sure to become a favorite among the kids for their sweet looks and cuddly softness. But more than that, children will also enjoy the audio functions of these dolls, as for example Ling will teach your child 25 words and phrases in Mandarin Chinese and English: When pressing her left hand, she will count to ten and list a few favorite activities, and when pressing her knee, Ling sais ‘I love you!’ Language littles are also available in a number of other languages, for example Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew, each doll speaks between 25-30 foreign words and phrases and is delivered with a translation booklet.


Available from Genius Babies for $39.95.



Wonderful Asian vintage kitsch by Dumpling Dynasty

I will end today’s edition with the wonderful, whimsical items by Wu and Wu’s Dumpling Dynasty. For example, check out this beautiful pigtail set filled with a mirror and comb, as well as vintage hair accessories.

Or take a look at these charming explorer and baking kits, that come with a vintage-style metal torch, magnifying glass, metal compass, string with knot-guide and notebook and pencil, or in the case of the baking kit, with a set of celebration candles, rolling pin, wooden spoon, three metal star cookie cutters, cupcake cases and recipes.

But Dumpling Dynasty also has beautiful Chinese inspired bags and mugs, along with some other great vintage kits, they even have a first aid one!

Available from Dumpling Dynasty, kits and bag for £14.00, teapot and mugs set for £20.00.



Berg Toys Moov 4in1 kit: Today a scooter, tomorrow a racer…
June 23, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Toys and games | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I finally came around to write about wooden items as I had actually planned to do yesterday, and I have just the perfect item to beginn with, the Moov by Dutch company Berg Toys. This is a fabulous wood, steel and rubber construction toy that lets your kids create a scooter, a racer, a carver or a trike, all from the included pieces, and they don’t even need any tools or srews to do this! All vehicles are fully functional and have steel axels, wooden boards and pneumatic tires and can be assembled easily. This product truly promises endless fun for 5-12 year olds: Build your favorite item, play with it until you get tired, disassemble it and start over again!


Available at Hamleys, £189.99. For other retailers check the Moov website.



Plancity by Plantoys: Modern wooden toys beautifully designed
June 23, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Toys and games | Tags: , , ,

Next in line I want to present some of Plantoys’ Plancity collection. These wooden quality toys in the shape of for example trains, planes and car parks are simply beautiful with their modern, simple design. I especially like the express train with its straight lines and realistic appearance and magnetically connected carriages, as well as the city station with its arched roof and the possibility to combain Plantoys railroad and street systems. But they also have other great products apart from the Plancity range, such as their musical band which develops coordination and concentration.


Plantoys has such a huge variety, you really need to check them out for yourself. Whether you are looking for vehicles, dollhouses or play kitchens, all their products are well-made and beautifully designed. Even better, Plantoys’ products do not only have educational value and provide many hours of happy playing, they are also eco-friendly, wooden toys with longevity that do not run on batteries, are great choice for sure!

Available at Moolka, musical band $49.99, water blocks $24.99, city station $79.99, sit n walk puppy $18.99, express train $14.99.



Momoll: Modern wooden toys from Switzerland
June 23, 2008, 9:00 pm
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I will end today’s focus on modern wooden toys with a peek at Swiss company Momoll’s toys. Their products really have a minimalistic edge to them, quite undertandable, when considering that Momoll’s intention for the Playtower Thing 3 was to design a multifunctional playhouse whose design would be appealing to boys and girls alike! But Momoll also produces other beautiful items as well, such as the Playtower Ding 4, doll house furniture, the Lili play kitchen or the RayRay doll house, which can be collapsed when not in use, and is hence especially suitable for small apartments, where space is scarce.

Both playtowers have a simple structure that can be assembled and disassembled easily and whose modular construction opens up the possibilty to extend the playsphere by adding an (almost) infinite number of additional floors. Additionally, both sets have a designer facade of either colored plexiglas or silk-screened birch plywood sliding walls. The minimalistic design opens up a child’s creation, because it is not limited to one environment: The playtowers can convert themselves into car parks, hospitals, skysrapers… whatever the kids imagine them to be.


Available either directly at Momoll, at US shop Spunky Sprout (RayRay doll house $352.00, Lili play kitchen $440.00) or UK shop Little Fashion Gallery (RayRay doll house £160.50, Lili kitchen £165.00, plexiglas playtower £157.00).
Yes, the prices are a bit higher than standard doll houses and wooden toys, but then you have a true multi-purpose designer toy with superb looks and great functionality, which is designed, developed and produced by hand, all in Switzerland, a country known for its quality craftsmanship!



More of Playsam’s modern classics: from rocking toys to jetliners

It’s been a while now since I’ve introduced Playsam’s Streamliner and Xtreamliner cars on SunnyKidstyle, so now it’s definitely time to come back to this fabulous Swedish company and tell you, which other great products they have in store, because all of them share a magnificent, modern and simple design.

Just take a look at their Airliner and Jetliner series, just as beautifully designed as the Streamliner, only that this time, the outcome is not a little toy car, but an airplane. For those kids who like it even faster, they have a Formula 1 and an oldtimer racer in their collection, while budding little sailors will surely enjoy the beautiful sailboats.


And the good news don’t finish there quite yet, because Playsam has just the perfectly designed item for each family member: Your littlest ones will surely enjoy the Swedes’ interesting twist to rocking toys with this rocking rabbit, or this beautiful Saab ride-on, while teenagers or adults might be more tempted by these gorgeous JoJos,pens and key chains.


Design buffs on the other hand will surely fall for their incredible Playtown and Saab 001 concept car: Not that all of Playsam’s items aren’t masterpieces of design already, but especially these last two products are modern art in perfection and would make the perfect sculpture to display in your living room! The polished wooden pieces of the Playtown represent the four most characteristic sights of Sweden’s capital Copenhagen, i.e. The City Hall, Kaknaes Tower, The Globe and The Royal Castle. The superb quality of this set shows in the details: The City Hall’s crown is made of silver and palted with 23 carat gold! On the other hand the Saab 001 model is inspired by Sixten Saxon’s prototype of the Saab Concept Car 92001, which did not look like a normal car, but was futuristic and aerodynamic design in perfection. The modern design of this wooden toy, or rather piece of art, brings the charm of the origninal Saab home with its wonderful sophisticated design. Check them out yourself:

While researching Playsam’s products, I found even more interesting things: In 2006 Fitzsu Society, a Los Angeles based store for modern design home accessories, had gathered a group of designers from around the world to create their own interpretation of Playsam’s cars. While the most beautiful products are of course sold by now, I could still find a few beautiful ones available:

Among others, the whole collection of Playsam products can be bought at US shop UnicaHome except for for the playtown, or at UK shop Juuka . The Fitzsu designer GP cars can be bought at Fitzsu .



Wind-up toys by Jesco von Puttkamer

After finishing the above Playsam review, I started looking around which other items Unica Home sells, and I got lucky, because I found my inspiration for the following two features there. Originally, I had planned to write about more traditional wooden toys, but I guess I can always do that tomorrow or the day after.

Anyway, here are great wind-up tin-toys by designer Jesco von Puttkamer. They are hand-made in Germany, which makes them one-of-a-kind, as well as high quality products. Jesco’s unusual designs comprise a telephone with moving receiver, a boat, a police car (which I find has more resemblance with a tractor, but never mind), a swiss car and a Red Cross ambulance that can both climb uphill due to their assymetric cross-shaped rear wheel, as well as a set of race cars, which are a bit smaller than the others, but at least they come two per package, turning the lever increases their speed drastically. All tin vehicles are simply beautiful to look at, and were designed with happy memories of childhood and the joy of simple toys in mind. Once wound up with the included key, they run for about two minutes.

However, part of their nostalgic charme stems from the fact that these gems do have exposed gears like in the old days, and also the sharp edges make them unsuitable for children, at leat for the small ones. But I am sure many older kids or adults will just love them for their decorative value. Arriving with a numbered and signed instruction leaflet, they are a great collector’s item after all. And surely those parents who buy these precious cars for their children are responsible enough to only let the kids play with them under supervision until they are old enough not to hurt themselves accidentally (at least I hope so).

Available at Unica Home , $55.00-$75.00.

If you’re interested in a little more information about the artist, read on, otherwise, just skip to my next entry 🙂
After a bit of research I managed to discovered Jesco von Puttkamer’s website and thought I should also share some pictures of his studio and some other works.

I had never heard of him before, but apparently he must have some reputation, since he has already completed contract work for many big companies, such as Volkswagen and Fuji, and actually began his artistic career recycling leftovers from industrial production, out of which he created large metal sculptures which could be turned, twisted, pulled or otherwise set in motion, making an awful lot of noise. His current focus is on small collectors toys that double as objets d’art and are produced by himself, using the brand name ‘Jetzt Produkte’.


You can also order his creations directly from him, with the order form on his website, and he also completes custom orders. But there’s one big catch though: His website is only in German! No wonder why it was so difficult to find it in the first place, and of course apart from the fact that he belongs to a widely extended German noble family whose tradition it is to name their first-born Jesco. Thus you can imagine there are quite a few of them historically, among them is a rocket enginer and senior NASA manager, as well as a governor of German Cameroon, back in the days before World War I, when Germany had joined the European rush to divide Africa among themselves (see Wikipedia). By the way,’von’ means from in German and is a prefix denoting nobility. More precisely, it refers to the city or village under patronage. So Jesco von Puttkamer’s ancestry must be going back to some (probably tiny) place called Puttkamer.
OK, enough off topic rambling, back to children’s toys…



Alexander Girard’s wooden dolls for Vitra
June 22, 2008, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Decor, Picks for Grown-ups, Toys and games | Tags: , , ,

OK, today’s picks ended up being much more design oriented than I had originally planned, but the Alexander Girar list were still something in the back of my head, and seeing them at Unica Home just reminded me that I haven’t posted them yet. Besides, it is already a while ago that I have featured some of Girard’s items, so why not have another turn.

These wooden dolls made of pinewood were originally created by Girard as decorations for his Santa Fe home. Fortunately though, design museum Vitra is reissuing models 1-11 of his wooden dolls. These dolls with sometimes happy, sometimes melancholy faces are hand-painted and not suitable for very young children. But with their modern design, they would surely look fabulous as room decoration, not just for the nursery! They also make perfect gifts, since they arrive in a printed, wooden box.


Available at Unica Home for $150.00 each.