When I recently told the head of a London nursery school that my father, Art Wiser, had designed Community Playthings’ Hollow blocks
, she said, "What?! That’s like saying someone designed sand or water!" However it’s true – and he still works every day, making Community Playthings. When I last saw Dad two years ago, I told him how much children in the UK enjoy the Hollow blocks. He nodded his head, then said slowly, "Yes… I think that was the best product we ever designed."
Community Playthings began shortly after the second World War.Its founders were a handful of idealistic young couples at a land cooperative in the Appalachian Mountains in the southern US. One of their goals was to raise the living standard of the local people and another was to develop industry using local resources – in other words: Wood. These couples belonged to the peace movement of that time, and one of their beliefs was in a simple standard of living for themselves and their families. They all had young children, by whom their designs were tried and tested. Right from the start, they noticed – and were fascinated by – the fact that children’s imagination is better fostered by simple playthings than by detailed toys! This realisation strengthened their belief in simplicity, which has been a hallmark of Community Playthings designs ever since.
Next month marks my father’s 92nd birthday. When I write to congratulate him, I will tell him that Hollow blocks are still going strong on this side of the Atlantic.