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Mini Wonders - Czech Toys Past and Present

From Fatra to Merkur, Czech toys have a long and successful history both in their homeland and abroad. Drawing attention to the unique Czech craftsmanship, the 'Mini Wonders' exhibition presents contemporary toy design as well as designs dating back almost a hundred years. As such it is one of the highlights of Czech Centre´s programme celebrating the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. The exhibition is also part of London Design Festival.


Exhibition dates:  15 Sep – 14 Oct 2018
Opening hours:

Mon – Sun: 10 am – 6pm (15 – 23 Sep)
Mon – Fri: 10 am – 6 pm (24 Sep – 14 Oct)
Private View: Fri 14 Sep, 6.30 pm (free, all welcome)
Venue: Vitrínka - Czech Centre Gallery,
30 Kensington Palace Gardens, W84QY, London
Free entry
More info: https://bit.ly/2N9Omk0


Golden times of the toy industry are dated from the late 19th and early 20th century. Since the first iconic design was born in 1920s, Czech toys have made a name for themselves internationally. They saw an unprecedented success at the Expo 1958 in Brussels, where Czechoslovakia showcased an exhibition focused on children's world created by artist Jiří Trnka and toy makers Viktor Fixl and Václav Kubát. In more recent years, the interest in Czech toys was renewed thanks to Libuše Niklová’s 2011 retrospective 'Plastique ludique' at the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris, followed by the 2012 Museum of Modern Art exhibition 'Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900–2000' in New York, which also featured toys by renowned Czech designers.

At present, a young generation of designers and illustrators keeps the tradition of Czech toys alive while giving them a fresh look. In return, toys present an opportunity for the designers to freely develop their imagination, exceed their own creative borders and fulfil their potential. The exhibition presents, among others, acclaimed traditional metal construction sets by Merkur, a wooden balance bike by Re Pello, inflatable plastic toys by Fatra (featuring award-winning designers Libuše Niklová, Zuzana Lednická, Anna Kozová and Jerry Koza), and magnetic wooden puzzles by Detoa.

Curated by Czech art historian and writer Tereza Bruthansová, Mini Wonders takes this tradition on a journey around the world, through this travelling exhibition beautifully presented from the iconic Kazeto suitcases, which have been part of children's world, and which have already stickers from the places and cities they have been (Milan, Tokyo and Paris).  

Works of the young generation of toy designers are displayed next to modern icons of the industry that have become part of the Czech cultural heritage during the past hundred years and are still manufactured. They have been very well-received by children and adults alike, the latter ones seeking them as decorative collector's objects. The oldest toy showcased here dates back to 1920, while the most recent one was designed in 2018. All exhibited items can also be purchased at the exhibition.

"Based on my curated retrospective exhibition of Libuše Niklová in Paris more than seven years ago Paul Smith, the acclaimed British fashion designer, started selling the monography of the author and her toy-seat shaped animals Buffalo, Giraffe and Elephant, which were also patented and became known as one of Czech ground-breaking toy designs. I am extremely proud to bring them to British public thanks to the 'Mini Wonders' exhibition." Tereza Bruthansová, Exhibition Curator

As part of London Design Festival 'Mini Wonders - Czech Toys Past and Present' offers also two days of family workshops on 15th & 16th September with award-winning Czech designer and graduate of the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, Michal Strach. During this workshop Michal will help create adorable toy sports cars from soap bars. The workshop is suitable for all ages, especially 3-10, but adults are also welcome. A wonder-ful experience indeed!

Exhibition curator: Tereza Bruthansová
Installation design: Anna Kozová + Jerry Koza / atelier SAD
Graphic design: Zuzana Lednická / Studio Najbrt
Project manager: Sandra Karácsony

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More information: www.czechcentre.org.uk
For images and other press Enquiries please contact Tereza Matysova: comms@czechcentre.org.uk, 07768 935 361
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CzechCentreLnd
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/londonczechcentre
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/czechcentrelondon/

The Czech Centre's mission is to actively promote the Czech Republic by showcasing Czech culture in the UK. Its programme covers visual and performing arts, film, literature, music, architecture, design and fashion. As well as hosting its own events, the Czech Centre offers support for other groups organising Czech related initiatives in the UK. It is a non-political organisation supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of a worldwide network of 21 Czech Centres. The Czech Centre is a member of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture).


Download the press release as a pdf


Zdeněk Miler - Mole and Bunny, Stuffed toys based on characters from The Mole cartoon (first episode made in 1957), Produced by: Moravská ústředna Brno

Metal construction set - Merkur Classic C04, (1930s), Produced by: Merkur

Adéla Fejtková, Adéla construction set, (2014), Hand-painted beech wood

Libuše Niklová, Buffalo, squeaking seat-toy, (1971), PVC, Produced by: Fatra

Kutulu, Pi-Pi (2015-16), Beech wood, hand-painted