My Space is a design-minded playhouse that folds up for easy storage, making it the rare toy both children and parents can agree on. Especially now.
There’s plenty of business opportunity for inventions like these: Houses are shrinking. Last year, they downsized 7 percent over the year before — equivalent to a full room. What’s more, as we’ve detailed before (here and here), people are moving to cities, where the average unit’s no bigger than a sardine can. Desirable living space in one of the largest nations in the world is suddenly scarce. Which means that the market for compact household goods, whether appliances or furniture or even toys, is about to get white hot. That is not good news for kids, who have always generously applied the adage “bigger is better” to their own playthings.
My Space, though, manages to be both big and small. Designed by Liya Mairson, it pops up to provide a roomy enclave for kids ages 3 to 6 to hold tea parties and play G.I. Joes and do whatever other depraved things they do when parents aren’t looking, then collapses into a flat panel that can be stowed against the wall or under a bed. Mairson, a recent grad from Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, in Israel, created it with cramped, urban apartments in mind — places where there isn’t space for a play room to begin with. We think it’d be right at home in small houses and condos, too.
Plus, it’s nice-looking. Aesthetics in children’s toys are always tricky, and Mairson does a good job avoiding the plastic neon horrors you usually see, without making the playhouse so precious you feel like you’ve just walked into Design Within Reach (which sells probably the only toys on earth that’ve never been on any child’s Christmas list). The rounded edges keep it from looking too much like a cardboard box, and the color scheme’s got a ?60s vibe that anyone stuck on Mad Men would go gaga over. It could almost pass for a house for grown-ups. OK, not really. But if the downsizing trend continues, it might end up being precisely that.