18 July 2017

Century of the Child

The Nordic Embassies, Berlin

– 22 October 2017



The extent to which the role of the child has changed in European society can be seen particularly well in the products designed for them since 1900. In the exhibition “Century of the Child”, the Nordic Embassies in Berlin display the changes in the development of toys that have taken place over the past 100 years.


With the increasingly widespread idea of paying more attention to the needs of children, there is also a higher demand on the products that are designed for them.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the pamphlet by Ellen Key, which prophesied in 1900 that the forthcoming century would belong to children. Ellen Kay is seen as an influential educator of the 20th century, who was a strong advocate of non-violent upbringing and taking the specific needs of children into account. However, she is now viewed somewhat critically on account of the proximity of some of her ideas to National Socialist objectives.

Numerous design concepts by people such as Alvar Aalto, Kay Bojesen, Olafor Eliason and Elsa Beskow show that designing for children grew in importance. However, the exhibits are not only by famous designers, but there are also anonymous designs, and products by large companies including IKEA, Brio, Lego and Marimekko. These show how toys create living worlds and reflect the state of society as a whole at the same time.

The exhibition is being held in Felleshus, the joint cultural centre of the embassies of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. Felleshus is a public cultural and event space which, in addition to exhibitions, also offers visitors readings, concerts, film showings and conferences. 


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