The plastic toys designed by Libuše Niklová—original, artistically conceived, and technically ingenious—are a firm favorite with visitors to MoMA’s Century of the Child exhibition. They remind us that many toys manufactured in Soviet Bloc countries like Czechoslovakia during the 1960s and 1970s were anything but pedantic and dreary. Like many of her contemporaries, Niklová was inspired by the potential of plastic to create toys that were cheap to produce, colorful, lightweight, washable, and easy to store. “Development cannot be held back,” she wrote in 1971, “In the future products from plastic matter will surround man just like the air, and they will become commonplace. Increasingly, natural materials will be a luxury and the object of admiration. The future, however, belongs to plastic.” In the video below, the designer’s son, the artist Peter Nikl, introduces us to some of the toys he grew up with and road-tested, demonstrating their enduring tactile and emotional appeal.
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