I have been following the lively back and forth comments on the new Architect Barbie from Mattel that will debut this summer. I began to think about who were the important designers of architectural/building toys.
The seminal designer of open-ended architectural or “building” toys and children’s environments at the Bauhaus was a woman – Alma Seidhoff-Buscher. As a woman designer, she faced some of the same gender prejudices that woman architects confront today. According to Medea Hoch, “Although officially the Bauhaus recognized no gender restrictions on admission, in 1920, a “women’s class” was set up with the weaving workshop to keep students out of other disciplines.” Alma Seidhoff-Buscher was finally allowed to join the carpentry and wood sculpture workshop, but only as a “guest”. She designed a number of building toys that were produced and sold by the Bauhaus as a way of raising money for the school.
After thinking about Alma’s contributions, and Mattel’s new line of “I can be” Barbies, I began to wonder…
Why not a Barbie Building Toy Designer?
Would she be carrying a sack of blocks …? Or a 3D printer?
And, she wouldn’t have to worry about whether to wear high heels to a construction site.
As a woman designer of building toys, I spend a lot of my time looking at children at play so I would probably add a video camera to Barbie’s accoutrements.
Suggestions for outfits?
[See: “Toys and Art: Interdependency in the Modern Age,” in Toys of the Avant-garde]