Dollhouse Decorating

Miniature Decorating Ideas |Articles on decorating dollhouses and the history of this artform

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I have had a life-long love affair with dollhouse miniatures, and careers in art education and interior design. I hope to combine these life experiences to help other miniature enthusiasts get more out of this wonderful hobby we enjoy, a hobby that often reaches the level of an art form. Susan Downing

Posted on 08 December, 2015

kaleidoscope-house

The Kaleidoscope House on exhibit at the V&A Museum of Children

The Kaleidoscope House

Larry Mangel founded Bozart Toys, Inc in 1996 to provide artists the opportunity to design affordable children and “kidult” products. Mangel was a former gallery director who had exhibited the works of Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain and other members of the Pop art school. His goal was to produce artful toys and furniture that were visually stunning, yet useful.

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Kaleidoscope House Accessories found on Modern Mini Houses

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Karim Rashid’s Chess Set, found on Etsy

Karim Rashid’ Chess Set

An acrylic chess set designed by Karim Rashid’s filled the bill. It showed the possibilities of this translucent material. The chess set was not only a financial success — Bozart sold 65,000 of them – it is part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s permanent collection. It also won a gold medal at the 2002 Industrial Designers Society of America competition.

The Dollhouse

In the chess set, Larry Mangel saw luminescent qualities of acrylic, how natural light made it glow. He often gave grants to top designers to create toys of immense quality and educational value. In 1999 he commissioned artist Laurie Simmons and architect Peter Wheelwright to create a postmodern house featuring sliding colored walls.

One design critic had this opinion: “It’s a modernist, fantasy-fueling cacophony of color. A dollhouse enthusiast’s dream or nightmare, depending on your opinion of modern design.”

Built in 1/12th scale, the panels are colored perspex, a strong acrylic that holds its shape when molded. They are movable and interchangeable, and can be shifted to make new colors, allowing the house to take on different atmospheres. The floor plan measures 22 X 28 X 24 inches. It received international attention in the art and design community.

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Kaleidoscope Dollhouse people, fashioned after the designers and their children.

The miniature people that came with the house were modeled on the designers themselves, and their children. The original retail price was $210; 13,000 Kaleidoscope Houses were sold.

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The Pool Pavilion, found on PMW Architects

The Pool Pavilion

This is a 1:12 extension which connects smoothly with the dollhouse. It also works as a stand-alone object. The Pool Pavilion includes a transparent roof top pool that can be filled with water, a cabana, sauna and a modernist curved terrace. Children can use their imaginations to walk out of the Kaleidoscope House bedroom to the deck for a swim (with swimming figures), relax by the pool or on the terrace The floor plan measures 28 x 14 x 18 H inches.

Cult Object

Bozart Toys is no longer in business, but the Kaleidoscope House has achieved cult status. Here’s a quote from a product designer:

“Even though I was never a diehard fan of Bozart’s Kaleidoscope House, it always felt like the one that got away. I knew one of the investors behind Bozart from Philadelphia. A bunch of art world people I knew bought it for their kids, their grandkids, and their nieces and nephews. I saw it for sale in the MoMA store. Too bad the art museum trustee market wasn’t big enough to support what was a truly inspiring venture. It was the Creative Playthings of the late 1990’s.”

Still On The Market

Playable models, meaning children had had their way with them, have sold for as low as $385 on eBay. A dollhouse still it its original packaging recently sold for over $15,000 to a collector. Here’s a link to eBay with Kaleidoscope House as the search term. At the moment, December 8, 2015 at 5:00p.m EST, top asking price is $2,400 for a model in A+ condition.

On the museum circuit

A  Kaleidoscope House was last shown in London, at the Victoria and Albert?s Museum of Childhood. Over the years it has been displayed at MoMA, The Modern Museum of Art in New York City, which sold Kaleidoscope Houses in the gift shop, the Guggenheim and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

And lastly, here’s a cool video on the Kaleidoscope House to watch.
Susan

Posted by Susan Downing


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