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Congratulations to our Giveaway Winner!

September 21, 2011

Heather Christensen Smith is our Damsels in Design Giveaway Winner! She will receive a copy of “Design Sponge at Home” by Grace Bonney. Enjoy her article below.

Innovative Design With Children In Mind
by Heather Christensen Smith

With thousands of products in the children’s marketplace combined with new parents wanting to do their best and raise a perfect child, companies are having a hey day selling parents everything from prenatal dvds to baby wipe warmers. In 2008 Time magazine contributor Pamela Paul published Parenting, Inc., How The Billion-Dollar Baby Business Has Changed The Way We Raise Our Children. With all these items on the marketplace, we should be reminded of the most important user and the most important product – children and their toys. A few companies stands above the rest in producing quality products for children; one is Manhattan Toy. Founded in 1979 by Francis Goldwyn, Manhattan Toy pioneered the use of non-traditional fabrics in toy design and introduced delightful new body styles designed for the children’s appetite for play. Play as the function leading to children’s understanding the world around them is something that both Boston Children’s T. Berry Brazelton, MD as well as veteran educator Jane Healy focus on in their bestselling behavioral and developmental books, Touchpoints and Your Child’s Growing Mind. Brazelton writes, “Play is a child’s work. As he plays, he has a chance to relive his experiences, try out questions about his world, and most of all, play out his dreams.” With play as such a crucial role in a child’s life, so are the toys!

           Natural Classic Baby Beads

One playful toy sold by Manhattan Toy that catches the eye of a design-loving parent, as well as the interest of a baby, is the Natural Classic Baby Beads (pictured). As described on their website, “the wooden beads are strung together with an elastic cord and can be manipulated into an endless number of configurations”. The light wood pleases the eye, and the round balls fit nicely in the hands of adults and babies; when a mom needs both hands to hold the babe while wiping up a bit of drool, she can slip the beads on her wrist to momentarily transport herself to a modernist jewelry model. Babies, with their limited motor skills can easily grasp the beads, move around in their little hands, and attempt to chew and suck on the soft surface.  And in addition to Natural Classic Baby Beads being a good toy for developmental play, these beads are made from rubberwood, a tree with its primary use to produce latex. With advances in industrial processing, the soft wood which was previously burned, now has a second life – for environmentally conscious products such as these. The Natural Classic Baby Beads are a rare item on the marketplace – good for the parent, good for the baby, good for the environment!
Heather Christensen Smith holds a Master’s degree from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum/Parsons School of Design. She is also a new mother of the beautiful girl pictured above. Heather can be reached at

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