Lisa Mahar

Photo: Brad Paris

Tell me about the toys, furniture, and books you sell here.
I sell Swedish, Swiss, German, Italian, some American, and a lot of French toys for kids ages 0 to 6. We have reissues of original toys from the Bauhaus, too—by Kurt Naef, Kay Bojesen, and Alma Siedhoff-Buscher. Most of my books are reprints from the fifties and sixties.

And the furniture?
Most is vintage or new pieces based on mid-century designs—by Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen.

Your own children must have an incredible playroom.
I have one room that’s my son’s— I call it his studio. He’s very interested in plants, so we got him a grow stand—it’s two-tiered, with 50 plants growing inside. I’ll be selling it here soon. When it’s cold outside, and a plant blooms in one of his trays, he draws it and makes a document, then files it away.

Most toys you sell fall under one of three educational philosophies: Caroline Pratt of Bank Street, Maria Montessori, and Reggio Emilia.
Correct. The Montessori materials I sell are the most expensive. They’re incredibly well crafted: eight layers of paint on every surface, they use the best woods, beautiful grains, and they’re geometrically precise. Why would a child want to take care of an ugly plastic thing?

Do you have toys for gifted children?
I try not to go there. All children are brilliant in their own way, and the trick is keeping them that way. When parents come in and tell me their kids are geniuses, I try to change the subject.

Lisa Mahar