July 6, 2010

Noguchi Playground Art

Remember all those funky designs in your playground as a kid? The equipment that you hardly ever see anymore made into freeformed concrete shapes such resembling large potato chips with holes or some other other-worldly half-dream, half-nightmare form as if from a Dali painting. I do... we had the big potato chip in the schoolyard and even more creations at the city parks (until city officials grew nervous about liability and replaced them with wall-to-wall foam padded safe parks).

Did you know that some of the top designers of the day worked on these creations? Here's a fine example of that playground art designed by none other than Isamu Noguchi.

The Noguchi Playground was the 1952 model made for the United Nations. Yes, apparently even the highest representatives of the world at that time needed a playground. This area was even to be given a special international diplomatic designation, but alas the park was not to become a reality, thanks to Noguchi's NYC nemesis, Robert Moses.

As it happened, Moses's blocking of the UN Playground was the fuel for MoMA championing the design, which in turn led to an exhibition at Creative Playthings' Madison Avenue toyshop. So as it happened in 1953, Creative Playthings approached Noguchi with a proposal for designing commercial playground equipment for thier new spinoff division, Play Sculptures. And the rest (I assume) is history.

You can find a whole heaping collection of Noguchi's broad range of work here on Raimist's Noguchi uploads at Flickr.

For THE book of Noguchi's creativity you can go to Amazon and purchase Ana Maria Torres' 2000 book Isamu Noguchi: A Study of Space.

Still here??? Why not go look at some more mid-century playground designs? Go to Aqua-Velvet.com fast!

Thanks to Daddytypes.com for some background info.


1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

Oh yes, I remember all the amorphic play shapes. Did I spell that right?

At any rate, there used to be one climb-on thingie on a tiny sized patch of grass the city owned.

It sat there for years, not a single kid ever seen there. Boo.

The other day, I noticed it was gone. =( I guess the city took it away. I hoped they put it up somewhere where kids can give it the play time it deserved....

Space Commander said...

I hope some places have saved these. Here all the original playgrounds everywhere have been replaced by foam covered ground and plastic hamster tubes :P

I sometimes run across one of these in a small town... it's like stepping back in time when you do!

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