Paul and Marjorie Abbatt designed toys. Not just any toys, but meticulously thought-out, designed and edited toys. They sold their toys in a spic and span modernist shop on Wimpole Street in London’s West End. The shop opened in 1936 and was designed by the Abbatt’s good friend, architect Erno Goldfinger.
Goldfinger designed the façade as a wall of glass, broken only by the name ‘Paul & Marjorie Abbatt Ltd’ in cut out Gill lettering. The interior, intended to be child-friendly, with low-level displays and children’s chairs, was nevertheless rather severe. Goldfinger was severely modernist here in a way he would never repeat.
Interested in the educational value of play, the Abbatt’s produced catalogues with extensive information on age-appropriate toys. Images of Ladybird children earnestly enjoying themselves with Abbatt toys – from snap cards to climbing frames – were wrapped in covers displaying the Abbatt logo of two children, again designed by Goldfinger.
Yet one can only guess how comfortable the real fit between modernism and childhood was.