The Kjarvalsstadir play area was recently redesigned by Gudfinna Mjöll Magnusdóttir (whose work you might just know) to create a unique space within the museum for the youngest guests to stimulate creativity by exploring, experimenting and to discover new things. 

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I didn’t want to make classroom, I think kids get enough of sitting by a table in schools. I wanted the room to have a unique atmosphere and to be both simple and adventurous.

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The inspiration comes from Arabian sitting rooms with low, deep sofas and striking wall ornaments that Magnusdóttir originally fell in love with when visiting Istanbul, Turkey. They were commissioned to artist Huginn Þór Arason, who hand sawed the pieces. Abstract yet figurative, the ornaments allow the children make their own stories from it or just experience and enjoy the ambience.

Sometimes I feel people associate children’s creativity to their drawing skills. But I thought it would be interesting to have it more open to exploring and investigating. That’s how the idea of the inspiration library came across.

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Magnusdóttir asked people from various creative fields to tell her about the books that inspires them. Through the creative library, Magnusdóttir wanted to show that inspiration can come from many different sources and for allow the little and larger guests to discover new things.

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Magnusdóttir decorated the space with benches, that she designed especially designed for the project. Instead of tables, there are loose boards that children can work on, and a tool wagon with pencils, papers, rulers and scissors for making experiments, writing and drawing and used cork in the floors.

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All our environment affect us; it can stimulate us, tire us, make us feel good, secure, or it can make us feel uncomfortable and restless etc… I truly believe kids sense that well even though it´s somewhere in their subconsciousness and you see that in their reaction. So design can definitely play a very important role in that case. Therefore I really have to compliment the museum for understanding that and involving a designer in a project like this. However, it´s important for the youngest guest to be accompanied by an adult, as this is not like “boltaland” in Ikea. Because the kids needs guidance and together with an adult they can enjoy the space much better.

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Reykjavik Art Museum Educational department Klara Þórhallsdóttir
Builder Halldór Úlfarsson, designer, artist
Guðjón, cork and flooring contractor