Renate Müller

18 March - 26 April 2014

82 Franklin St NY 10013

R & Company is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by German toy designer and maker Renate Müller. This is Müller’s second solo exhibition in the US and presents a new series of hand-crafted toys that serve as teaching tools for children, and objects to be admired by design enthusiasts. The exhibition will be on view March 18 – April 26, 2014. An opening reception will take place on Tuesday, March 18th, from 6 – 8pm. On Saturday, March 22nd, Müller along with her collaborator Bernd Rückert will conduct a special Family Day at R & Company.

Müller lives and works in Sonneberg – a location once considered the center of toy manufacturing established by German makers in the 1800s. Since the early 1960s, Müller has been designing and making jute and leather toys by hand, in the form of creatures that range in scale from songbirds to hippos. Her practice is a continuation of an endeavor launched by her teacher, Helene Haeusler, at the Sonneberg Technical College for Toy Design. Haeusler intended to produce large, bright, exceptionally made toy animals that could be employed in therapeutic settings for mentally and physically challenged children, used for balance training and orthopedic exercise, as well as for sensory stimulation and hand-eye coordination.

Müller’s designs are sturdy in order to be tumbled over, climbed on, and tossed around. In addition to her well-known whimsical animals, this exhibition will present a new twist to her designs with a series of surreal forms that are mutations of her usual creatures; two-headed seals and rhinos, and double-tailed hippos are just a few examples. This new series, like other recent works continue to push Müller’s traditional designs to create wholly unique, larger-scale works. In addition to their appeal to children, design connoisseurs also find Müller’s handcrafted designs irresistible and many use the larger animals as seats or footstools.

Also presented in this exhibition will be larger play areas designed and created by Müller with her collaborator Bernd Rückert. This is a continuation of play stations they have created for schools and hospitals, which incorporate the tactile learning elements employed in her therapeutic toys. These designs mix different textures (soft/scratchy, hard/soft, warm/cool, reflective, etc) to help stimulate the senses, as well as moving parts to play with (ropes, wheels, etc) in order to develop balance, grip, and other motor skills.

Each of Müller’s animals is made with an acute attention to quality and durability; they have a wooden armature and are hand filled with “wood wool” (wood shavings), and
individually sewn by Müller.