The most famous art school in China, the Chinese Academy of Art (CAA) in Hangzhou, is currently showing an exhibition about the Bauhaus period. Naef’s CEO Hans-Peter Engeler and chief designer Heiko Hillig were invited to an event at the university to talk about the relationship between Naef and Bauhaus. The lecture focused on the most important aspects of the Bauhaus epoch, such as the connection between art and craft, as well as its minimalistic forms. Also in focus were the Bauhaus replicas produced by Naef and the question of how Kurt Naef, the founder of the company, came to forge a partnership with Bauhaus in the first place. Contact with the Bauhaus Archive was established in 1976, and led via further institutions to the most recent cooperation with Tecta. The basis for the success was and remains the high-quality craftsmanship of Naef and our know-how in wood processing, so that excellent ideas become excellent products.
Whether the Bauhaus had influenced Naef’s products in general, was what the audience wanted to know from the guests in a subsequent panel discussion. Heiko Hillig said that this was indeed the case, pointing out the reduced, geometric forms and colourfulness, important foundations of the Bauhaus philosophy, which are also reflected in the minimalistic forms of Naef products.
Before the lectures, a workshop was given, offering children the opportunity to experiment with the Bauhaus building game from Naef. The youngsters were fascinated as they watched and imitated Heiko Hillig demonstrating a variety of ways to play with the classic toy. He further held their attention with the Rainbow, conjuring up a variety of forms and structures.
Fostering Education with Naef toys
Education and development programs enjoy a high reputation in China. “Masturer,” an organization for early childhood education with its headquarters in Hangzhou, offers various courses in 40 centres to support children up to the age of six. Six centres currently offer the course, “Learning with Naef Toys,” with significant expansion planned for the near future. In this course, children are encouraged to play in small groups once a week for 45 minutes. Hans-Peter Engeler and Heiko Hillig were able to take part in such a lesson, then exchange ideas and suggestions with the responsible teachers.
During a visit to one of the leading primary schools in Shanghai Hans-Peter Engeler once again experienced how serious the Chinese are about education: there are as many as 103 courses offered as electives! Here, too, they want to focus on playful learning and are planning a room for guided play with Naef construction games.
These interesting insights were made possible due to the dedicated leaders at Naef China, David Ong and Zoe Liu.