Is imagination something that’s inborn? Is it something that develops after birth? Is it a gift of the spirit? Or a reward that’s earned? Is it the product of certain genes? The outcome of curious play? Personally, I think it’s all of that and more. And I’d also be willing to bet that as long as humans have indulged and exercised their imaginations, and wanted to share their stories, they’ve turned to wood.
Next time you listen to someone tell a compelling story, watch their hands. They’re probably just as alive as the tongue of teller. The hands won’t be still. It seems clear that there’s a connection between memory, imagination and the use of the hands. And what material did humanity first reach for in the beginning to aid them in the crafting of their stories, their imaginations?
For me that’s why wood has such towering appeal. Especially for toys. It’s something that grows and develops, is living and ready to share a story. It’s something that can be re-animated as we invest it anew with the spirit of our imaginations. It’s also incredibly satisfying to the touch, unlike say, plastic.
Even when painted and machine cut, wood retains something that just about every other medium loses.
Maybe the tactile beauty of wood comes from the spirit of the tree. Long after its roots have withered it still manages to stir life and sing new stories and new ideas into our hands. That’s why despite the lure of iPads and plastic toys, I’m going to keep bringing home wood puzzles and entertainments.
Even now these games speak to the kid inside.
Wood Toys and puzzles (in order of appearance):
1/Cubebot from Areaware by David Weeks Studio
2/ Wooden Stacking Tower Game from Tchibo
3/FaceMaker from Miller Goodman