Monday, March 7th, 2011
Coarse Toys exists where Hamburg and Hong Kong intersect. By fusing the cute, animated side of Asia with the earnest, precise aesthetic of Germany, Coarse reflects a hybrid culture full of energy and possibility. Collectors from around the world covet Coarse’s Noop and Paw character sculptures, which are impeccably rendered in vinyl and fiberglass.
Designer Mark Landwehr, who started Coarse in 2003 and was later joined by Sven Waschk in 2007, believes in a physical object’s ability to inspire engagement. “At a certain point you become emotionally connected to a new piece of work, and the interaction leads you through the process of creation,” says Landwehr. “Our message is a concise and concentrated representation of life and death, in all of its miseries and brilliance.”
The name Coarse is in stark contrast to the smooth, flawless finishes that give the toys a venerable reputation. “Figural sculptures can be experienced on different levels,” says Landwehr. “On the one hand, they are a pure shape containing lines, edges and surfaces, but at the same time, they have personality, emotions, a story and feelings.”
It has been a good year for the emerging company, with a major exhibition in Tokyo and an exciting collaboration with illustrator Ashley Wood in the pipeline. Fans of Coarse Toys can expect the collection to continue unfolding in complex ways. “Art needs depth,” says Landwehr. “Otherwise, it is trivial and dead.”
Jeremy Brautman is a Bay Area-based toy maven and freelance writer