Design in Play

Smooth wood. Primary colors. Fundamental shapes. Meet Naef play objects.

The beauty of these Swiss-made toys lies in their relative simplicity: interlocking shapes that can be rearranged and stacked into infinite patterns.

Seemingly basic pieces allow children to explore the physics and visual cues of our world, having fun as they discover new relationships of shape and color.

The elementary designs leave room for the imagination to roam, uninhibited by a connected brand or cartoon story.

Adults hands will be itching to play, too. The array of available configurations sparks thoughts of malleable table art.

Indeed, the price tag on many of the items suggests more artwork than plaything, with averages between $150 – $300 per set.

Famous Swiss workmanship does go into each piece: most are handcrafted and quality-inspected to within a millimeter.

Also worth noting is that each knickknack was created by a specific designer, including authorized replicas by original Bauhaus members.

There’s even an annual contest held to find creative new arrangements for certain sets, held in Japan, where Naef has had a strong presence for decades.

In 2005 Naef USA was launched in Winchester, Virginia and is going strong. Perhaps we’ll see greater spread of these decidedly un-quotidian blocks here in the near future.