Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Making Kids Modern: Or is it Their Moms?

Designer Todd Oldham has made recent plays for both the DIY market (with Handmade Modern) and the boutique baby market (with Charley Harper ABCs and 123s). For this holiday season, he tries to appeal to both at once with Kid Made Modern, 52 projects “inspired by mid-century modern design” for children 5 and up. As a mom who considers herself crafty and admires midcentury modern, I simply had to get my hands on it. There is a long history of designers applying their critical eye to the world of children — Charles and Ray Eames made films that are genuinely appealing to children, most notably Toccata for Toy Trains — but so many other “modern” toys seem much more appealing to parents than to kids. My son never uses the minimalist black Brio shape sorter I bought, preferring the plastic Fisher Price versions at other people’s houses. Was this book just for the junior coffee table, or could it offer elementary-schoolers a sense of the midcentury world? I decided to take it for a test-drive.