we had a store—we don't anymore

The Baby Toys the Of a Kind Founders Would Stock in Their (Nonexistent) Shop

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur spent nine years running Of a Kind, a beloved e-commerce site known for carrying indie designers you couldn’t find anywhere else on the internet. They closed up shop last fall, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped, well, shopping. With that in mind, we’re asking the entrepreneurs (who still write a newsletter and host a weekly podcast) what they’d stock in a store — if they still had one — department by department. First up, actually stylish baby toys.

A good baby toy is one that a person wouldn’t be embarrassed to find all around the house — on the floor, in the sink, under the bed, in the background of every family photo. And we’ve collected intel on who makes that sort of toy in equally disparate places: in a perfectly imperfect magazine home tour, in the Instagram Story of a Hollywood mom, in the back of home-goods stores in Barcelona and Venice Beach and, of course, at the sprawling, brain-draining trade shows we attend at (shiver) the Javits Center. Say what you will about the design-ification of, well, everything, but who are we to complain about the emergence of hot-sauce and avocado rattles, both of which sold well on our site?

We’ve learned through the years that it’s not (just) the parents who purchase the chalk shaped like donuts or the ginormous Jellycats; it’s the cool aunts, the aesthetically minded godfathers, the grandmas who can make a whole afternoon of a visit to ABC Home — an audience that doesn’t necessarily know, or at least remember, what infants actually do. (The answer is nothing. Infants do nothing.) That means that some of these things serve as nursery décor at first and become toys later; it also means some are so stylish you might just want to buy an extra for yourself. Don’t worry, though: We still keep parents very much in mind. None of these things make noise, and some are even stylish enough to pass as art.

The Russian brand Raduga Grez turns out toys so pretty that you definitely don’t have to be (or have) a kid to hanker for them. To be honest, we’d carry a whole boatload of them in our hypothetical store, but if we had to choose, we’d pick these. They’re so pretty that they could sit in a bowl on a dining-room table (and we’d probably photograph them just like that for the product page).

We’re big fans of Candylab’s wood cars, and the newest collection of Candyvans is their most charming offering yet. We’d encourage customers to scoop up a few at a time — their sleek boxes are easy to store, and those first birthday parties seem to pop up out of nowhere.

From the illustrator behind Gold Teeth Brooklyn, the card line you’ll find in hip fashion boutiques all over NYC and L.A., this book is good-looking and cheeky without veering into twee, and that’s harder to come by than you’d think.

A rather stylish alternative to a Rangers onesie. There are an actual mom and dad behind this line of minimalist, design-y toys out of Montreal, and that shows in details like the hand-knit sock covering that protects the wood floors that this hockey stick will surely be banged against. (If we were still in the merchandising biz, we’d photograph a girl playing with this.)

Babies know nothing about money! But they sure like to push buttons. There are a ton of cash registers out there, but few have modern trapping —not one but two credit cards — without literal bells and whistles and those annoying plastic coins that end up in every drawer. Leave it to the Swedes behind Kid’s Concept, who put this much thought and good design into everything they turn out.

Playthings make up only a small fraction of the offering from Danish home line Ferm, but they’ve already become a trademark of chic nursery tours. This puzzle is winning and incredibly neutral, meaning a person could buy it for a co-worker whose home they’ve never visited.

The stuffed-animal market might be saturated, but the stuffed-creature one is just getting started. These guys are made of 100% organic baby alpaca yarn, which appeals to the “natural fiber and wood toys only, please!” segment, and they’d be a solid addition to an “under $50” category (that gift-guide editors love). We’d put money on at least a few adults scooping these up for themselves as home décor.

Because somebody’s too young for an iPhone, obviously. This looks good on a bookshelf for now, and it’s ideal to serve up as an “add to cart” option for a shopper who’s looking to bring a little flair to a present or to make the contents of a gift bag feel more substantial. We also like the very cute mini version that’s only $6.

This volume from the French set designer and art director Sophie Glasser looks like a coffee-table book, and that’s half the point. (The illustrations it contains for, say, making magic ink or paper chains are just as stunning.) Showing it with a stack of reads like Such a Fun Age and Severance helps to sell the, uh, lifestyle.

Photo: Margrit Wenzel/© Margrit Wenzel, 2017

A mobile is a classic gift. Shrimp cocktail is a classic app. But a shrimp cocktail mobile?! Well, that’s the unlikely-in-the-best-way work of the Kingston, New York, artist behind PetitFelts who hand-makes these masterpieces. There are also equally delightful mushroom, strawberry, and snail versions, but this is the only one that defies logic so winningly. For that, it deserves placement on a home page (or in a shop window).

It’s a bank — but one that looks like Alexander Girard might have designed it. This is the sort of thing that pops on a website and is begging to be merchandised in multiples for maximum effect, so we’d carry three or four colors and switch them up seasonally for freshness.

[Editor’s note: There’s a $14 shipping fee to the United States.]

Yes, seeing this loaded with sand or mud pies could induce a low-level panic attack. But photograph it filled with toys and suddenly it looks like a very chic way to encourage kiddos to clean up after their damn selves from a young age.

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Baby Toys the Of a Kind Founders Would Stock in Their Shop