Heirloom Toys

The concept of heirloom toys has always seemed kind of impossible, you know? Could a single toy actually survive the chewing of babies, throwing of toddlers, forgetting of children? And with the quick sifting of trends and color schemes and “of-the-moment” patterns, how could you ensure a timeless, classic design?

Fredericks & Mae can. And has.

“We actually met in college in studio art,” says Jolie Mae Signorile, one half of the powerhouse Brooklyn-based creative duo Fredericks & Mae. After developing a mutual “materials crush” on TA Gabriel Fredericks Cohen, the two knew they were destined for a collaboration.

And just like that, Fredericks & Mae was born. Their first seasonal collection, War Games, debuted in 2011. “We both loved games, and as we began doing our research, we realized there were some that popped up again and again across multiple cultural contexts,” says Signorile in a recent interview. “We want to create objects that are universal, timeless and based in these larger historical and ceremonial frameworks. We want to incorporate those stories back into the piece.”

The collection is a re-envisioned take on timeless classics: marbles, backgammon, dominoes – all produced with locally-sourced materials and handmade in their Bushwick studio. A series of objects for the home, garden and sky, each piece is thoughtfully designed for quality and to appeal to all children – big or small.

Ever the pluralists, the work of Fredericks & Mae spans many different disciplines, materials and art forms. Yet what is perhaps most refreshing is the idea that, instead of relying on current trends to dictate future movements, the pair relied on our greatest navigational tool at our disposal: history. “Tools, games and rituals trace arcs though history and across the earth,” offer Fredericks & Mae. “We follow these arcs: nose to the ground and mouths agape.”

And so, from kites to marbles to travel games, each piece is thoughtfully designed to – quite literally – stand the test of time. “At the end of the day, I think it all goes back to us wanting to create something gift-oriented,” says Signorile. “We are making these special objects that I hope inspire people to think of the special people in their life. We want our work to be something that can become a family heirloom and be passed down through the generations.”

And with pieces ranging from $40 to $320, the collection is priced as such. Although I’ll likely never own a Fredericks & Mae original (although I can certainly wish to!), I am inspired to revisit our purchases for Bee. Will they stand the test of time? Do they teach responsible, sustainable practices? Are they directly inspired by history, enveloped in a story greater than our own?

I hope so.

Image Credits: Fredericks & Mae at Need Supply

p.s. A handmade heirloom chair for the minis.