Milan architect Matteo Ragni would often find it amusing, if frustrating, to watch his kids play enthusiastically with a toy one moment, and discard it out of boredom the next. It inspired him to enlist 100 designers from across the globe to create their dream toy car in wood. Ultimately, he wanted each to produce a design that would age well and last for years. Even if a kid eventually bores of his car, that would still be okay. “You can throw it away without worrying about pollution,” he says. “It can be reused. It is made in Italy by adults who are paid a fair wage. If you are cold, you can burn it.”
With the help of Alessi, Ragni has been producing the model cars since 2007, and now sells them online and through select shops. Each piece is handmade in Italy, by a craftsman using a block of aromatic Lebanese cedar measuring 16 by 7.5 by 7.5 centimetres.
They are all on display at 100% ToBeUs, which runs at Toronto’s Design Exchange until February, after its stint at Milan’s National Museum of Science and Technology. Among the standouts: Alessandro Mendini’s triple-spiked Le Reale; a squiggly low rider by the Campana brothers; Claesson Koivisto Rune’s rectangular Bookbus; and the upside-down Beetle Face Puzzle car from Jaime Hayon.
100% ToBeUs runs until February 9 at the Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street in Toronto.