• about
  • Team
  • Kurt Naef
  • manufacture
  • Social commitment
  • Designer

About

Swiss company

Since 1954, we have been manufacturing wooden toys, not just for children, but for people of all ages. Our products range from baby toys to design objects to replicas of Bauhaus designs. Regardless of what we produce, one thing is clear: products adorned with the Naef logo stand for the highest in precision and quality.

Working in the field of toys and design is a wonderful way to earn a living. Here at Naef, our team is driven by remarkably creative people, innovative ideas and high-quality raw materials. Furthermore, we are a family-run company. In keeping with the philosophy of our founder Kurt Naef, high quality standards are central to everything we do. We are also interested in the ideas and opinions of our customers. We would love to hear your thoughts!

Team

Get to know us

Hans-Peter Engeler CEO / Management Favorite toy: Sphaera and Diamant
Heiko Hillig Designer / product management Favorite toy: Naef Spiel and Quadrigo
Patrick Engeler Marketing / sales management Favorite toy: Modulon und Naef Car
Christina Kiszlinger Administration / accounting Favorite toy: Tectus and Miau
Aleksandra Kalan Sales / shop support Favorite toy: Circino and Rainbow

Kurt Naef

The founder

4 May 1926 – 30 November 2006

Kurt Naef devoted over 60 years of his life to working with wood. First, he worked as an apprenticed carpenter and later, as a designer of wooden toys, which brought him international fame. His road to success, however, was not an easy one. His destiny was formed by many coincidences, chance encounters and unexpected changes. In spite of this turbulence, what kept him from giving up?

Kurt Naef was an exceptionally inquisitive, open-minded and determined person who did not shy away from risks or challenges. Whatever the project he took into his hands, it was handled with care, and then perfected. His natural charisma and ability to inspire those around him also contributed to the growth and success of his company.

Milestones in life of Kurt Naef

1926 - 1945

Childhood in Eptingen and apprenticeship as a carpenter in Olten.

1951 - 1956

Diploma as interior architect at art colleges in Basel and Amsterdam. Marriage to Alice Dunkel and start of his own interior architecture, arts and craft company in Basel. Enquiries from customers for more refined play objects, led to Kurt Naef producing these himself. >> Kauring (teething ring for babies), Naef Spiel (building brick game, which is a diagonally incised cube).

1967

Opening of a modern factory in Zeiningen and production of play objects in wood, designed by Kurt Naef and other well-known designers. Development of important commercial relationships, especially with Japan.

1988

Company is sold, second marriage to Lotti Engeler.

1989

Opening of the toy shop ”Playon“ in Rheinfelden (is closed in 1998 for economic reasons).

1992

Retirement and move to France.

2003

Return to Switzerland, to Zofingen where his wife’s family lives. The Naef company is repurchased by Kurt Naef and Hans-Peter Engeler (Lotti’s son), and moves to Zofingen.

2006

Kurt Naef passes away 30 November in Zofingen.

Further information on Kurt Naef in “Der Spielzeugmacher” (The Toymaker) by Charles von Büren, published by Birkhäuser.

Manufacture

Quality and Precision

In 2012, a strategic partnership was formed with Beck, a family-run company located in Southern Germany, which specializes in precision woodworking. Working with Beck gives us peace of mind, that every Naef product- whether on display in shop window or on the coffee table- has been meticulously crafted and undergone scrupulous quality tests.
Each and every wooden component is manufactured to within one tenth of a millimeter of its specified tolerance, and is hand-sanded before it undergoes controlling. Only when all of the pieces fit onto, into or next to each other with absolute precision, when the surface has a perfectly smooth finish, when all quality standards have been met, are we ready to pass our products on to our customers.
Additionally, we use exclusively sustainably-sourced, high-quality European wood as well as top-quality paints and varnishes.


Social commitment

Enfants du Monde

It is difficult to believe that there are still over 57 million children worldwide who are deprived of an education, or that more than seven babies die every minute from preventable causes. At Naef, children hold a special place in our hearts, so we are helping to change these statistics. For every baby product sold on our online shop, 10% of the proceeds are donated to “Enfants du Monde” (Children of the World).

Enfants du Monde is a Swiss charitable organization based in Geneva. For over forty-five years it has been working in some of the world’s poorest countries to ensure that their children receive a quality education, as well as access to professional health care. Enfants du Monde finances education programs, trains teachers and health care staff, and supports the local citizens with on-site medical care. We are proud to support these critical initiatives.

Designer

Timeless and worldwide

Our success is not ours alone. We are in continuous cooperation with designers from all over the world. Behind every design and product stand amazingly talented people who perform outstanding work. That’s reason enough to introduce them and to show our appreciation.

Are you a designer who would like to get in touch with us? Then please write to us via the contact form!

Contact form

Kurt Naef,

Born in 1926 in Eptingen, Switzerland; carpentry apprenticeship, advanced training at art schools in Basel and Amsterdam; diploma of interior design; design and creation of modern furniture and wooden toys; founded his own company, now called Naef Spiele AG; died 2006 in Zofingen. Baby Balls, Gemo, Gradus, Griffi, Kaumi, Kauring, Kerba, Kreisel, Labyrinth (zusammen mit Hans Nyfeler), Naef Spiel, Regolo, Ringli-Ring, Signa (together with Sarah W. Preston), Tabella, Tona (Ringo, Fibula, Rulo, Bugi, 3 Ring-Spiel, Zahnklötze, Kugelbau) and many more..

Peer Clahsen,

Born in 1938 in Flintbek / Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; apprenticeship as an artisan; 1955-1959 trained at the Muthesius School of Applied Arts in Kiel; freelance artist, art educator, lyric poet and performance artist; numerous exhibitions and publications; met Kurt Naef in 1967, which led to an intensive and successful collaboration; lives and works in the southern Black Forest, in Schopfheim.
Designs: Angular, Cella, , Dolio, Duo, Cubicus, Diamant, Ponte (no longer in production: Pari, Tria, 3-D-Mühle, Arcubus, Pan Tao, Plenus, Objeux-Objekte wie objeu® cubicus, objeu® orbis, objeu® sin, objeu® pac, objeu® status,, Quadra, Symbolon, Ordo, Prisma, Ordino)

Heiko Hillig,

Born in 1971 in Marienburg, Germany; graduated from the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle; worked as a product designer; chief designer at Naef Spiele AG since 1997; independent artist; teaches at the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau; numerous solo and group exhibitions. Design: Rainbow, Imago, OP-Tric, Ikamo, Fidelus, Fluctus, Naef Car, etc.

Alma Siedhoff-Buscher,

Born in 1899; studied at Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau; designed and produced children's furniture and children's toys; together with Erich Brendel, designed the children’s room at the "Musterhaus am Horn" for the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923; married actor and dancer Werner Siedhoff in 1926; died 1945 in Frankfurt. Design: Bauhaus construction game

Josef Hartwig,

Born in Munich in 1880; stonecutter and sculptor; studied at the Munich Academy; foreman in stone and wood sculpture at the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar; from 1925 teacher of sculpture, geometry, perspective and writing at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main; restoration master in the workshop of the Städtische Skulpturengalerie Liebighaus in Frankfurt from 1945-1955; died 1955 in Frankfurt. Design: Bauhaus chess pieces

Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack,

Born in 1893 in Frankfurt am Main; studied at the Stuttgart Acadamy of Art under Adolf Hölzel; from 1920-1925 studied at the Bauhaus; developed «Reflektorischen Lichtspiele» (reflective light compositions) taught at the Bauhochschule Weimar, Wickersdorf, Frankfurt / Oder, Kiel, Berlin and England; from 1940 art teacher in Australia; died 1965 in Sydney. Design: Bauhaus Optischer Farbmischer (Optical Colour Mixer)

Margarethe Reichhardt,

Born in Erfurt in 1907; successful German textile designer and graphic designer; educated at the School of Applied Arts in Erfurt; 1926-1930 studied textile design at Bauhaus Dessau; founded the hand weaving workshop "Grete Reichardt" in Erfurt and trained more than 50 students; died 1984 in Erfurt. Design: Bauhaus Hampelmann und Bauhaus Steckpuppen

Yasuo Aizawa,

Born in 1955 in the district of Shizuoka, Japan; 1973 studied drawing; first encounter with Ellipso from Naef (1980) and working as a salesman at a toy company prompted Aizawa to design toys himself; since 1989 draws cartoons (mangas) related to toys; gives lectures at art colleges which deal with the topic "play and childhood education". Design: Cuby, Vivo, Arena, Isomo, Via

Jo Niemeyer,

Geboren 1946 in Alf (Mosel/Deutschland), Ausbildung als Grafiker und Born 1946 in Alf (Mosel), Germany; trained as a graphic artist and student of visual design and architecture at the College of Art and Industrial Design in Helsinki; since 1970 freelance artistic activity in the fields of graphics, painting, sculpture and later land art; teaches at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki; preferred artistic work is based on strong mathematical-geometric design principles; lives and works in Schluchsee, Germany. www.partanen.de
Design: Modulon, Tectus, Quartus

Fred Voss,

Born 1941 in Seesen / Rhüden, Germany; apprenticeship in construction and carpentry; studied graphic design at the School of Applied Arts Hildesheim; development of colour theories in relation to geometric grids and their realization; participation in several exhibitions in Germany and in Switzerland. www.fredvoss.wordpress.com Designs: Agon, Ponte (zusammen mit Peer Clahsen), Diavo

Fredun Shapur,

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1929; studied at the Royal College of Art in London; graphic and industrial designer; lives in London. Design: Schnurpfelpony, Zic-Zag, 3D-Puzzle, Serpentino, Balancing Troupers, Ziehwalze, Surprise Surprise, Schnurpfelschaf, -kamel, -löwe.

Gérard Pétremand,

Born in 1939 in Geneva, Switzerland; career as a photographer began at the journal "Réalités" in Paris, where he worked as an assistant to Edouard Boubat and Jean-Philippe Charbonnier; back in Switzerland, opened his own photo studio and worked with numerous advertising agencies; also an artistic photographer with exhibitions in different countries; has received numerous awards; lives and works in Geneva.. www.gerardpetremand.ch Design: Vache Rouge

Hubert Zimmermann,

Born in 1928 in Steisslingen, Baden, Germany; attended technical school; worked as a designer, draftsman and cartographer in Germany and Switzerland; studied at the New College of Design Ulm; graduated as an industrial designer in Mannheim; since 1999 works and lives in Oberdreis, Germany. Design: Ornabo, Ornabo Junior

Hubert Zimmermann,

Born in 1928 in Steisslingen, Baden, Germany; attended technical school; worked as a designer, draftsman and cartographer in Germany and Switzerland; studied at the New College of Design Ulm; graduated as an industrial designer in Mannheim; since 1999 works and lives in Oberdreis, Germany. Designs: Ornabo, Ornabo Junior

Jean-Philippe Rossinelli,

Born in 1949 in Basel, Switzerland; studied philosophy; from 1974 freelance artist; lived and worked in Basel until his death in 1994.
Designs: Quadrigo, Quadrigo fractale, (Tangens)

Kathrin Kiener,

Born in Athens, Greece in 1946 as the daughter of a Swiss diplomat; 1963-1966 trained as a kindergarten teacher in Ebnat-Kappel, Switzerland; 1975 founded the company "Kiener Spielwaren"; 2016 sold the company to Trauffer Holzspielwaren AG; lives in Winterthur, Switzerland.
www.kienertoys.ch Design: Mosaik (Color design)

Xavier de Clippeleir,

Born in 1950 in Wilrijk, Belgium; 1975 diploma in Industrial Design from Artesis Hogeschool Antwerp; earned a Master in Design at the Royal College of Art, London; 1987 - 2013 lecturer at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands; presently a freelance designer; participates in numerous exhibitions; 1983 and 1985 “Spiel Gut” award winner for Juba and Ellipso; lives in Antwerp. Designs: Ellipso, Juba, ABC, Rombic, Bora, Zita, Pingo, Swita, Space Doll.

Omri Rothschild,

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1956; studied graphic design in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem; designed and produced over 45 toys and games; died 2015. Design: Magnaef

Peter Schmid,

Born in 1932 in Uster, Switzerland; attended Zurich School of Applied Arts; assistant and teacher at the Basel School of Applied Arts; employed in the office of Max Bill, later in the design office of Alusuisse Zürich; since 1970 has his own office for architecture and design in Hittnau, Switzerland. Design: Ligno, Moneybox.

Peter Schweizer Scolari,

Born in 1945 in Liestal, Switzerland; architect and photographer; trained at the School of Design Basel; lived in Pratteln and Rehtobel, where he died in 2011. Designs: Penalty, Swiss Car 1+2+3, Malus, Tannenbaum, Zollo, Swiss Heli, Curli, Swiss Plane.

Roger Pfund,

Born in 1943 in Bern, Switzerland; graduated as a graphic designer from the School of Applied Arts in Bern under Kurt Wirth; since 1969 artistic collaboration with his wife Elisabeth; lives in Geneva since 1971 and founded the «Atelier Roger Pfund»; designs banknote series for different countries, posters and corporate graphics for well-known institutions and companies; designed the Swiss passport in 2003. www.atelierpfund.ch
Designs: Cuneus, logo for Naef 1984, catalog for Naef 1990

Sabu Oguro,

Born in Tokyo in 1936; studied painting at the Design Academy of Art Tama in Tokyo; teaches at a school for the blind, developing toys for the students; since 1975 designs and develops wooden animal puzzles; since 1983 runs his own toy company under the name YU PLAN. Designs: 46 animal pairs and animal families

Aoi Huber Kono,

Born in 1936 in Tokyo; trained as a graphic designer at the Academy of Arts and Music in Tokyo; co-founder of Nikitiki toy store in Japan; since 1962 married to Swiss graphic artist Max Huber; artistic work in the fields of fabric and carpet design, illustrations, ceramics and toys; lives in Novazzano in Ticino, Switzerland.
www.aoihuberkono.ch Designs: Animal Puzzle, Motivo

Manfred and Cordula von Tettau,

Born 1936 and 1949; freelance artists in the fields of architecture, design and art; live and work in Munich, Germany.
Designs: Campanile, Zylos, Contura, Kniff, City, Quinto, 10 Handspieltiere, Dorfbaukasten

Byron Glaser and Sandra Higashi,

Both are from Southern California and studied at the Art Center of Design, Pasadena, California; 1986 foundation of their shared studio "Higashi Glaser Design" in New York; inventors of the ZoLO play sculpture set and founders of ZoLO Inc, a trading company with its own design-conscious consumer goods, toys, and colouring books; live in Fredericksburg , Virginia, USA. www.higashiglaserdesign.com / https://zolo.com/
Design: Zolo

Christel and Christer Holmgren,

Christel, born in Austria, and Christer, born in Sweden, both studied industrial design in Vienna and Gothenburg and founded a joint design office in Denmark in 1971; work for renowned Scandinavian and international companies in the fields of industrial and graphic design, concentrating mainly on the design of glass, porcelain, kitchen and household items as well as toys and designs for people with handicaps.
www.holmgren-design.dk
Designs: Isola, Cinella, Rhytmo, Cambo, Waschbrett, Lingula, Klopfholz, Käsesparkasse, Pedi, Dragon, Telefon, Hex-Eck, Handkran

F. Reinhard Brüderlin,

Born in 1919 in Basel, Switzerland; trained as a graphic designer at the School of Design Zurich; studied painting, sculpture and photography with Max Paul Linck in Zurich; from 1951 had his own studio in Verscio, Switzerland; died 2009 in Intragna, Switzerland Designs: Gnom, Swiss-Swinger, Wilhelm Tell, Fahnenschwinger

Hans Nyfeler,

Born in Rohrbach, Switzerland in 1942; took over the family business "Nyfeler Holzwaren" in Gondiswil at the age of 22; manufacturer of utility tools for agriculture; under the direction of Hans Nyfeler, the company specialized in precision woodworking and produced, among other things, toys and musical instruments; long-term cooperation with Naef, in production of the labyrinth; the company is headed today by son Remo Nyfeler. Designs: Labyrinth (together with Kurt Naef)

Herbert Bächli,

Born in 1940 in Zurich; apprenticeship as a graphic artist; editorial work and later graphic designer and chief text designer at Lehrmittelverlag; lives in Andwil, Switzerland. Designs: Gloggomobil, Gloggomobil small, Curvo

Jost Hänny,

Born in 1920; graduated from ETH Zurich with a degree in mechanical engineering; honorary Doctorate from the ETH Lausanne; development of three-dimensional puzzles and construction of the first computer-controlled pipe organ in Switzerland; lives in Ligerz, Switzerland. Design: Quadron, Managon, Escalon, Discon, Intragon, Discus

Jürg Näf,

Born in Riehen, Switzerland in 1942; trained as a mechanic; advanced training at the Basel School of Applied Arts; worked as a mechanic in various companies; from 1970 - 1997 worked as operations manager, developer, designer, salesman at Kurt Naef’s company in Zeiningen and from 1989 part of the management team; lives in Basel. Design: Niki, Sandpendel, Holzkollektion, Holzkreiselset (zusammen mit Christof Beck).

Wilhelm Kienzle,

Born in 1886 in Basel; carpentry apprenticeship; worked as a furniture designer; later self-employed as an interior designer and graphic artist in Munich; from 1918 head of the interior design class of the Zurich School of Applied Arts; from 1930 designer of everyday objects and from 1935 product development for MEWA (metalwork factory) in Wädenswil, Switzerland; died in 1958 in Zurich Design: Trigon

Mirjam Hüttner,

University of Design Karlsruhe; designs lamps, furniture and accessories; together with her husband Claude Muller, manages the company Hüttners in Ettlingen, Germany. www.huettners.com Design: Colorem

Olivio Ferrari,

Born in 1931 in Langendorf, Switzerland; 1955-1959 College of Design in Ulm; cooperated closely with Max Bill, the former rector of the Ulm College of Design; assistant to Professor Bernhard Hoesli at ETH Zürich; from 1969 until his unexpected death in 1994, Professor of Architecture at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies of Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA. Designs: Mass, Varia, Kyma, Olo

Sarah Ahart and Bryanna Dering,

Students of Virginia Tech, Virginia USA; winners of the Naef toy design competition in 2014 with their semi-spherical puzzle, Sphaera.
Sarah Ahart: born 1995 in Sterling, Virginia, USA; Masters in Industrial Design at Virginia Tech 2017.
Bryanna Dering: born in 1995 in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; aspiring architect; graduation in 2018.
Design: Sphaera

Negar Kalantar,

Studied architecture at the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran (Iran) with master's degree; studied at the College of Architecture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA; 2012 came second place in the Naef design competition with "Circino"; 2014 Master of Science in Architecture at Virginia Tech and in 2016 achieved her Doctorate; currently an assistant professor of architecture at Texas A & M.
Design: Circino

Ulrich Namislov,

Geboren 1948 in Essen (Deutschland). Nach einem Grafikdesign-Studium freiberufliche Tätigkeit als Künstler. Später Lehrauftrag an der Universität-GHS Essen im Bereich Bildhauerei und Professur an der Fachhochschule für Kommunikationsdesign in Mainz. Lebt in Volxheim (D).
Kreisel Exzenter und Ooval, (Kreisel Swingus/Spiritus/Fidibus/ Solarius, Circubus, Linus, Hexagramm, Topolino, Nic Nic, Canobil, Käsepuzzle, Kaskado, Orakelfilz)

Tomi Ungerer,

Geboren 1931 in Strassburg (Frankreich) und Schulzeit in Colmar. 1953 Kunststudium in Strassburg, 1956 Auswanderung nach New York und Born 1931 in Strasbourg, France and educated in Colmar; 1953 studied art in Strasbourg; 1956 emigrated to New York and published his first illustrated children's book, which became a bestseller; from then on worked as a draftsman, painter, cartoonist, illustrator, children's book author, commercial artist and farmer in Canada and Ireland; numerous exhibitions, awards, prizes and honours; part of his expansive life's work is exhibited in the "Musée Tomi Ungerer" in Strasbourg. Designs: Katzenjammer, Frosch, Elefant, Eule, Hund, Katze, Nilpferd, Schwein, Turm von Pisa

Ben Nicholson,

Born in Newark, England; studied architecture in London, New York and Michigan; has taught as a visiting lecturer at various universities in the USA and England; Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC); interested in geometry and visionary projects, house design and urban development; lives in Indiana, USA. Design: Versi

Verner Panton,

Born in 1926 in Gamtofte, Denmark; studied architecture and product design; 1950-1952 worked with Arne Jacobsen, Copenhagen; opened his own design studio in 1955; experimented with forms, colours and different materials, e.g. with plastic; from 1960 to 1967 developed the design classic Panton Chair, the first all-plastic chair; 1963 relocated to Basel, due to his collaboration with Vitra; received several design awards; died in 1998. Design: Pantonaef

Takao Yoguchi,

Born in 1945, studied design at Tama Art University / Tokyo; works as a graphic designer, illustrator and typographer; specializes in compositions of images and writing; designs corporate logos, trade symbols and brand design; numerous honours and awards. Circus, Moiré Book

Christian Spiess,

was born in 1981 in Biel, Switzerland. After completing secondary school, he spent a year in the French-speaking part of Switzerland as a carpenter, and then completed an apprenticeship as a decoration designer in Vevey. He then, amongst other things, spent time on a ranch in Western Canada as a caretaker. Back in Switzerland, at the age of 24, he began studying industrial design at ECAL (University of Art and Design) in Lausanne. Upon graduation, he worked for four years at Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec in Paris. Since 2013 he has had his own design studio in Zurich.