Thursday Salute to Originals: Crochet Playground
Playgrounds represent places of limitless imagination, yet their forms are repeated from place to place, with clearly defined rules of operation for each piece of equipment. A Japanese crochet artist has redefined the notion of a traditional playground, weaving colorful fabrics into whimsical patterns that beckon children to swing, run, crawl, and explore. Take a look at how Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam tactfully turns a playground into a piece of tactile art, and fantasy into reality!
While knitting and crocheting have always been the foundation of Toshiko’s work, the direction of her pieces shifted unexpectedly when two children visited her gallery began to climb onto her piece of art. She claims that “the fabric took on a new life, swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space.” From that moment on, her work has moved from galleries to parks, and from monochromatic color schemes to vivid rainbows.
Toshiko’s interpretation of “playground” is radically different than what you would normally find in the United States, and consists of an enormous, hammock-like net that is suspended from a wood pavilion. With bright colors, organic shapes, and sweeping patterns, it’s no wonder that children would consider it a whimsical paradise! One of the most attractive qualities about Woods of Net is the fact that it has no specified use; children are able to run on the net, swing on suspended ropes, and sink freely into the whirlpool of fabric.
Toshiko will display her crochet playground in Woods of Net, a permanent pavilion designed by Tezuka Architects and TIS & Partners Structural Engineers. Located in Hakone Open-Air Museum, the structure relies exclusively on timber to pay homage to ancient Japanese construction methods. With 589 pieces of timber spanning a total of 320 cubic meters, the Woods of Net is extremely sturdy, and will last an estimated 300 years. Careful perforations in the wood allow natural daylight to illuminate Toshiko’s design, creating a “space as soft as the forest where the boundary between outside and inside disappears.”
We salute Toshiko’s willingness to draw inspiration from her children, weaving the unbridled imagination into her crocheted paradise.