London’s V&A Museum of Childhood Brings Imaginary Friends to Life

Leading designers and production companies came together to shape every lizard-fox and three-eyed girl.


Children’s imaginary friends are the focus of a new campaign–and exhibition–for London’s V&A Museum of Childhood featuring photographs by Rankin and sculptures created by leading designers including teams at production company Aardman, content studio Psyop and Dwarf, home of Japanese creative Tsuneo Goda.


Conceived by AMV BBDO, “The Imaginary Friends Collection” is a unique collaboration between young children and some of the world’s top creative talent.

Back in September, the agency invited more than 60 kids to a workshop during which they were invited to share detailed descriptions of their imaginary friends. The results were eclectic, to say the least, including an eight foot tall dinosaur, a three-eyed girl with a pet cloud, and a fox with glasses and a lizard’s tail.

Leading designers–from Aardman, Dwarf, Psyop and production companies Blinkink and Picasso Pictures–were then approached to bring selected designs to life.

Once the designers were finished, Rankin photographed each child with the sculptured model of their imaginary friend. AMV BBDO then created a series of ads for a press and poster campaign that launches in the U.K. on Monday (February 1).

‘Chloe’ made by Blinkink for Mable Brim.Photo: © Rankin

“Children create many amazing things – like their imaginary friends. They are talked about all the time and often become part of the family,” says AMV BBDO art director Arvid Harnqvist who co-devised the idea with copywriter Amar Marwaha.


Around half of children aged four to eight have an imaginary friend at some point, according to one estimate. “But when the child gets older, these marvelous creations fade away. This project aims to immortalize them,” says.

“The easy route would have been to create a traditional print campaign, but we felt the imaginary friends needed to be brought into the real world and sculptures seemed to be a natural way to do that,” says Harnqvist.

Marwaha adds: “We’ve been fortunate to work with some extraordinary production partners on this project and they all have different styles. This was really important to us when we were looking for partners.”

‘Nessi’ made by Psyop for Julio Sanz.Photo: © Rankin

Creative directors were Mike Sutherland and Antony Nelson. Producer was Adam Walker. Poster design and illustration was by Mario Kerkstra.

‘The Imaginary Friends Collection’–featuring the drawings, sculptures and portraits–will be a semi-permanent fixture at London’s V&A Museum of Childhood until mid-year.

About the author

Meg Carter is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written widely on all aspects of branding, media, marketing & creativity for a wide range of outlets including The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian newspapers, New Media Age and Wired.