Summer is almost here, and the Young V&A team are excited to play and be creative with children and families in East London to celebrate the museum’s 150th birthday in June.
Introducing Émilie Queney
Émilie is an architect who often works with children and young people. She thinks architecture can be explored in a fun way, and that play is important for our creativity.
We asked her about her Happy Squares and where her inspirations for this toy came from. Emilie said:
I always wanted to create a toy for children to explore architecture and space at their scale. When I discovered Octons, straightaway I thought it would be amazing to have this toy in much bigger scale.
In the V&A Collection
Building with simple shapes – such as traditional building blocks or Happy Squares – can be a great way to think about the world, and build something completely new. There are lots of examples of such toys in the V&A collection, dating back more than 100 years.
Let’s have a look at what shapes, colours and materials are found in these old building blocks.
This construction set was made about 100 years ago. You could make houses using bricks for walls and triangular pieces for a roof. The individual pieces are made from wood or artificial stone, and have natural colours similar to real houses. The pieces can be combined in many ways to create different designs.
Other toys in the collection have much brighter colours and more abstract shapes. In the picture here, a combination of triangles, rectangles, and a semi-circle creates a sailing boat. What you build with these blocks may not look as realistic as blocks that really look like bricks or stone – but combining simple shapes lets us create anything using our imagination.
What can you find at home to play with?
Let’s see if we can find things to use as building blocks, instead of toys. Can you find any interesting shapes in your recycling bin?
Let’s make your own building block set by cutting and decorating what you found.
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