The Toys of Kay Bojesen

A design line that smiles

denmark danish toys kay bojesen
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Above: The carved wooden toys of Kay Bojesen. Photo: Ross Floyd for Wright Auctions

Design lines have to smile. There has to be life, blood, and heart in things you let go. They have to be human, warm, and alive

Kay Bojesen

Kay Bojesen’s designs are among the most recognized and beloved of any Danish designer or craftsman. Many families have passed down his pieces from parent to child and from child to grandchild and, unlike a delicate vase or a slight chair, his designs were meant to be played with. The toys of Kay Bojesen defy trend and gadgetry and are simple, timeless, and comforting things that resonate with both children and adults. While created with traditional craft methods they are truly modern – Bojesen’s monkey in particular is considered by many a modern icon.

Kay Bojesen graduated as a silversmith in 1910 after completing his apprenticeship with the renowned jeweler Georg Jensen. A proponent of Functionalism as applied to Danish crafts he co-founded ‘Den Permanente’ a gallery retail shop featuring the best in Danish design. However by the 1930’s Bojessen began exploring his passion for wood. Creating animals that reflected his belief that a product should be “round and feel good in your hand” and that the lines in a design should “smile” he set about creating a wooden menagerie that was expressive (often bemused) and made with Bojesen’s idea that his toys should never be an exact replica of nature.

Kay Bojesen created treasured and beloved characters that appealed to children – and former children – whose easy expressions have brought joy to many the world over. Several of Bojesen’s designs are still manufactured today and are often purchased not just as toys but as decorative accessories.

Enjoy a few, timelessly simple – even elegant – Kay Bojesen toys. Click on image for full view.
A few period promotional images for Bojesen’s toys. Click on image for full view.
denmark danish toys kay bojesen

Silversmith, craftman, and toy maker Kay Bojesen (1886 – 1958)


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