Renate Müller's menagerie of handmade toys were born with the intention to benefit children with special needs, each object carefully designed and constructed to strengthen physical and mental skills. Immediately successful, the toys went into production at Müller’s father’s toy factory; in 1976, the factory was nationalized by East Germany and Müller was removed from the division (although the animals continued to be made without Müller’s consent or compensation).
Upon the fall of the Berlin Wall and the closure of the toy factory, Müller was able to retrieve the rights to her designs, and since has personally handcrafted each item, even accepting repairs. “I know each piece is handmade by myself and I know the quality is like I want it and no compromise” the artist has said, who is now in her late sixties and works from a studio with the same sewing machines and patterns of her original toys.
These works are included in Dasha Zhukova’s Design Picks, available for direct purchase.
Vintage photographs by Klaus Dietrich Zeutschel courtesy of Renate Müller.