Friday, March 12, 2010

Kid Made Modern by Todd Oldham

I love modernist design. Bright colors and clean lines are really appealing to me. Unfortunately, I'm sort of messy, and I married a pack rat, so the odds of me having a beautifully modern home are pretty slim.

So, I was really excited when I found the book Kid Made Modern: 52 Kid Friendly Projects Inspired by Modernist Design by Todd Oldham. I am not that familiar with Oldham as a designer. I know he did an interiors line for Target, and was a mentor on Top Design, but I mostly remember him as that guy from House of Style on MTV. You know, in the Cindy Crawford years.

Oldham uses the work of mid-century designers such as Alexander Calder, Paul Rand and Charles + Ray Eames as a starting point for DIY projects for kids. I think this is a great hook for a kids craft book. Lots of craft books, particularly for kids, stray into "kitchy-cute" territory, so a book featuring modernist-based projects is unique.

Most of the projects are clothing or interiors based, and range from the simple to challenging. There's not a lot of information about each of the inspiration designers; each is introduced with a brief rhyme, on a two page spread that features work from the artist. However, a list in the back of the book gives web addresses for each designer to find more information.

The projects are laid out step by step, with accompanying photographs. Some of the instruction text seems a little scarce, but the photographs usually manage to demonstrate the techniques fairly well. Patterns for projects are not included in the book, but must be downloaded from the site. This site is a nice bonus with the book, with fun videos about featured artists and additional projects. Also included are pages about materials and techniques -- brushes, paints, stitches, etc. These pages talk about the different types of each material, and what they might be used for. As an enthusiastic, but not particularly knowledgeable crafter, I appreciated these pages. A section at the beginning of the book talks about supplies to have on hand, which seems to cover the basics, but most projects require additional supplies. A section on cleanup at the end of the book was a nice surprise, I also liked the suggestion of an inspiration binder.

While I can see most of the projects in this book having a lot of teen appeal, the book itself is clearly aimed at a younger audience. I'm looking forward to field testing many of these projects myself, and think this would be a great selection for crafty kids.

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