I had the great pleasure to get to Galy Tots at Kemistry last week: a lovely, tiny retrospective of Ken Garland Associates’ work for Galt Toys. It was lovely: lots of nice examples of graphic design and photography, as well as lots of items on display, including a prototype of knock-down furniture for playgroups, that was just beautiful.
There were several particularly lovely touches: firstly, that all the toys and games on display were set up to be played with – indeed, that they were set up so that children as well as adults could play.
And secondly: all the exhibition copy was written by Garland himself, which gave it a tone that was both very honest but also charming and subtle.
There were two quotation I took down, because they made an impact, and I wanted to share them.
Garland wrote about Edward Newmark, who had been manager of Paul and Marjorie Abbatt’s toyshop before he went to Galt.
Edward brought with him the conviction that play is a serious business, and toys are the tools of the child.
Talking about their time working for Galt, Garland said:
Most especially, it is rare for designers to have the experience of their work being enjoyed before their very eyes. I have had the greatest delight in seeing children playing our most successful game, Connect, in many parts of the world.
Watching something being enjoyed before your eyes is one of the great pleasures of designing things to be played or interacted with.
(And, by corollary, nothing hurts more, or reminds you to up your game, than watching somebody not have fun with something assumed they would enjoy).