Childhood is defined by playtime and with it the freedom to explore and create worlds in one’s mind. If anyone told you too much playtime amounts to nothing much, just point them to Floris Hovers. Floris designs toys that both children and adults will find hard to resist. His ArcheToys for Magis, created in 2013, is a collection of cars created from an exploration of ubiquitous industrially manufactured steel sections. As he describes, they are “vehicle groups…reduced to archetypes, almost graphic impressions of the originals. Not replicated from a photo, but drawn from memory.” Notably, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has included them in their permanent collection.
This year at the Milan Furniture Fair, he has created a new series of toys for Magis: CarTools. The fundamental principle of their abstract but recognisable shapes is similar to that of the ArcheToys but these present more flexibility like the way the iconic Lego blocks function. The modules comprise base with rounded studs suggesting wheels, cones suggesting light beams, and various shapes suggesting different models of vehicle bodies. The key word here is ‘suggest’. “By changing, moving or flipping the blocks, new combinations and images arise. They are a kind of design tool,” says the designer. The colour concoction allude to a retro era and really, are a more pleasant alternative sprawled on the floor or table compared to the too-bright, neon shades that many plastic toys are made from. We think Floris read a lot of comic books in his youth too because he has designed them to be reminiscent of vehicles in cartoons.
We ask Floris some thoughts on the collection and on the very, very important subject of play:
What was your favourite toy or game growing up?
My favorite toy(s) was Lego and a miniature circus with a tent that my parents had made themselves; many hours I played with it.
How does CarTools develop from Archetoys?
I wanted to found out more the essence of vehicle forms and make it possible to combine different forms (and colors) so as to ultimately make your own design. I wanted to give more freedom for interpretation and imagination. On the other hand I wanted a clear counterpoint to the metal that I used for the ArcheToys.
How are the pieces designed for flexibility and creativity?
Mainly by build and play by myself [And] my own memories and fantasies based on the age-old forms we know. I wanted to bring more dynamism in then apply colors that we do not know as primary colors, but [still] refer to it. The forming of a unit in a box was a follow-up step; this creates a kind of puzzle game and more challenges from interpreting blocks in their own way and use.
What other projects are you working on?
[Regarding the] subject of ‘toys’, I’m working with two new blocks, city / architecture and a highly abstracted form of Noah’s Ark and its contents. On another project, metal animals you might see in the line of ArcheToys. Furthermore, I am working on interior products, furniture, wall coverings, etc. In short, very varied!
Please continue this sentence: Play to me is:
Together or just alone, give your own interpretation to the world around you. Never forget that you were a child, otherwise you become a boring old man.
Magis is available at Xtra.
+ images courtesy of Xtra