Even though the Czech Republic is famous for its wooden toys, Libuše Niklová was the first to predict that the toys of the future will be made of plastic.
“Development cannot be held back. 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”, said Libuse Niklová in 1971.
Born in 1934 in the industrial town of Zlín, Chechoslovakia, she created a model for toys which was later on manufactured in the Soviet bloc countries during the ’60s and ’70s. They’re fun because of their texture, sound and sizes, and practical because they’re easy to clean and store. Niklová was fascinated by shapes, colours, textures, sound and everything that appealed to her senses, which becomes obvious in the way how her toys look and feel. The animal-shaped inflatable children’s toys earned her world’s fame, and were exhibited in the Louvre (2011) and MoMa (2012). The toys are still popular today, are produced by the Fatra factory in Zlín, and can be found in stores around the Czech Republic and online stores worldwide. More importantly, the minimalistic and somewhat surreal design of her toys is still appreciated today, equally by children as well as by adults.
Photographs by Studio Toast, from the book Libuše Niklová by Tereza Bruthansová, published by Arbor vitae societas in 2010.
The following video was made during the exhibition Century of the Child at MoMA, featuring Niklová’s son: