Skip to Main Content
Advertisement

Toy Story

Advertisement

A tale of the Munny, and the artists that tinker with it

Kidrobot’s Munny, a monkey-shaped android cast in permeable vinyl, stands 46-centimetres-tall. Founder Paul Budnitz and illustrator Tristan Eaton designed it in 2005 specifically to be painted and scribbled on – to become whatever little robot DIYers desired. The figurines sell out in toy stores globally, and museums exhibit the ones transformed by graffiti- and fine artists. So is the coveted Munny really a plaything, and what makes it “designer”?

For the Design Exchange’s This Is Not a Toy exhibition, Toronto’s irreverent art collective Team Macho put its Munny on a pedestal to self-effacing effect. Theirs is one of 700-plus figures customized by artists and collectives the world over – many of which are bright and luxuriantly tactile. Take, for example, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s The Simple Things. Designed in collaboration with recording mogul and co-curator Pharrell Williams and jeweller Jacob Arabo, the toothy fibreglass monster features a mouthful of Williams’ favourite gem-encrusted things. Nearby is Castor Design’s Munny, chiselled Michelangelo-style from Carrara marble.

Team Macho sprayed its bright white toy with a stain and water repellent coating, and installed it in an abandoned polyethylene bird bath. Their Munny stands in a pool of black ink that streams down from its oversized head to splash onto the floor. “We developed a sort of empathy for the blank figure,” says Lauchie Reid, one-fourth of Team Macho. “We decided to allow it to remain not only un-customized, but un-customizable. Our Munny pays tribute to the empty canvas that these objects begin as, and to their integration in day-to-day life.” For Reid and his partners, anything can be made a toy. As for “designer,” that requires imagination.

THIS IS NOT A TOY RUNS THROUGH MAY 19 AT THE DESIGN EXCHANGE, DX.ORG.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Get a closer look at what you can expect to find in the 2024 New Builds Issue of Designlines Magazine

In the 2024 Spring/Summer Issue of Designlines, we focus on New Builds and “celebrate the profound impact of creating something new, not just as an architectural endeavour but as a testament to laying down roots and shaping the very essence of our city’s identity,” editor-in-chief Joseph Cicerone writes.

Advertisement

Newsletter

Your Weekly Dose of Modern Design

Sign up for the Designlines weekly newsletter to keep up with the latest design news, trends and inspiring projects from across Toronto. Join our community and never miss a beat!

Please fill out your email address.

The Magazine

Get the Latest Issue

From a sprawling family home in Oakville to a coastal-inspired retreat north of the city, we present spaces created by architects and interior designers that redefine the contemporary.

Designlines 2024 Issue