Turkish designer’s product sold at New York’s MoMA
Ece Çelik - Ankara
Elif Atmaca, who designed a toy kit that enables the children of disadvantaged families to make toys when they combine materials from nature and at home, became the first Turkish designer whose product was sold at the store of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
With the kit called “Toyi,” children can produce creative toys from a plastic bottle, milk carton or a pine cone that will go to waste, Atmaca said.
“When I was a child, my mother gave me the freedom to paint the walls and cut various pieces of cloth and I used to turn them into toys,” said Atmaca, who experienced the magnitude-7.4 quake which struck the northwestern province of Kocaeli in 1999 at the age of 10 and observed the difficulties that children in the tent city had in terms of accessing toys.
It’s very important to ensure the development of the creativity potential of the children of disadvantaged groups, according to Atmaca, who produced sample kits, organized workshops with hundreds of immigrant children, after deciding to implement the project.
“My goal was to make gender-neutral, language-free and sustainable toys that they could play with as they grow up,” she added.
“I wanted both a child in a refugee camp and a child in Ankara to enjoy in the same way.”
“While we were only considering working with disadvantaged groups, we realized that children living in much better conditions also have difficulties in increasing their creativity.”
After discovering social entrepreneurship, we decided to do something for disadvantaged groups with the profit we will get from sales,” she said.
Atmaca is also the founder of a group founded by parents, educators, software developers and designers, whose aim to emphasize that games are as basic as food and shelter for children but is ignored.
MoMA, founded in 1929, is one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, and drew more than 700,000 visitors in 2020. Its collection of modern art includes “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh and works by Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin.
The kit designed by Atmaca became the first toy from Türkiye to win the IF Product Design Award in 2021.