Danish craftsman Kay Bojesen (1886 – 1958) was an esteemed silversmith and woodturner. Where his peers worked to a large extent on furnishings and lighting, Bojesen chose to concentrate his creative efforts on smaller objects. He explored a passion for wood in the 1930s and created, between 1934 and 1957, a series of wooden toys that are some of Danish design’s finest legacy pieces.
Bojesen’s wooden animals were never intended to be overly sophisticated or exact replicas of those found in nature. Strictly speaking they are toys, nevertheless their charm, character and expression appeals to both children and adults alike. Bojesen’s range of wooden toys were original and imaginative, living up to his ideal that “design should be round, soft and have a good feel to it.” (Source) He created many wooden animals, including a hippo, rabbit, dog and bear, but the monkey (designed in 1951) is arguably Bojesen’s most famous and iconic piece.
The monkey character captures a sense of theatricality, a knowing (somewhat impish) smile and a welcoming posture. It is also a complicated design, consisting of 32 parts and made using two types of wood – teak and limba tree. The monkey’s head, arms, hands, body, legs and feet are all movable, so allowing him/her to ‘monkey around’ in various poses.
Kay Bojesen’s wooden monkey is a playful, polished, sustainable and enduring toy. A friend for life with oodles of personality, it is rightly deemed a design classic and is a veritable piece of Danish heritage.
Monkey & Kay Bojesen images © Kay Bojesen.
‘Let’s Monkey Around’ poster image © Yumalum.