This is a story about life, about imagination, about being in the present and existing in the past; this is a story about painting, drawing, chopping and changing; about thinking, discussing, arguing and listening. This is a tale of a century of creativity and how ‘things’ come to define who we are.
Tom Karen is the Vimp, and Aircruiser and a Water Line Ship; he’s a ‘Big Fat Peace Bomb’, a Bond Bug and the Marble Run; he’s the Chopper bike and the ‘man that designed the 1970s’; he’s every one of his thousands of sketches contained in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum - each a testament to a lifetime of artistry and creativity.
He’s also a living embodiment of a life immersed in inventiveness, imagination and thought: visit his home and you will see his world come to life with papier-Mache birds, life-size toy dogs and various model Marble Runs hogging every corner of his house; his work-bench is a vibrant collage of creativity, from hand-drawn maps and postcards to newly devised toys for his ever-spoilt grand children and their friends.
He’s a real-life ‘Geppetto’ - a man who lives for children and for creativity, and should his toys ever come to life they would have such a story to tell.
From his early life in Czechoslovakia, his journey fleeing Nazi Germany across continental Europe, and his formative years in the UK as a Jewish immigrant landing on these shores with little-to-no money; through to his ascent to the top of the design tree, becoming the ‘man who designed the 1970s’, and his later years as a creative polymath and design mentor.
In The Toymaker Tom Karen presents some of the most cherished items that tell a story of not just an extraordinary life, but show the importance of nurturing one’s own imagination.
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