The tale began with a simple idea - a toy that every child, regardless of age and ability, can play, dream, and learn with. But things turned out less than simple. Fights, lawsuits, and even a death all mark the road it took to make a now-ubiquitous toy a reality. The object in question? Lego.
It’s tales such as this one that Alexandra Lange explores in her new book, The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids. Some may scoff at the seemingly trivial subject matter. Surely children, with their boundless imaginations and appetite for play, can discover ways to find fun in anything.
But it’s how those toys play a role in shaping the minds of those children - and ultimately those adults - that interests Lange. A renowned design journalist and critic, Lange’s book chases the histories and tales of childhood and its objects to tell us what makes these objects are so important. But it’s the book’s primary perspective - that objects for children should be appreciated thusly, and not as training wheels for adulthood - that is most notable.
A full review of the book (and the story behind the history of Lego) can be read in Metropolis Magazine.