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Kindercore: A Decidedly Toddler-esque Movement

Photo: Bubi Canal

Crayola-bright blues, gumball-machine reds, and Very Hungry Caterpillar greens fill the pages of MoMA’s fall catalogue, which includes this primary-color casserole pot. Popular neo-prep brand Rowing Blazers just came out with a rainbow-stripe rugby shirt in collaboration with Lands’ End, and when Nordstrom opened its New York City flagship in October, it featured a Nike boutique outfitted with bright-red carpets, aqua-blue chairs, and rainbow sneakers that look like a Microsoft WordArt gradient come to life. A confluence of recent trends are behind this toddler-esque design moment. “It would be easy to say this all thanks to Bauhaus, which celebrated its centennial this year,” says Annie Auchincloss, a home buyer at MoMA Design Store. “But I think it reflects something that came earlier: the early-20th-century Dutch De Stijl movement, which consisted of artists like Mondrian, Rietveld, and Theo van Doesburg and focused entirely on simplicity and primary colors.” Jill Singer, the co-founder of Sight Unseen, attributes it to the collision of three separate trends: Memphis Milano (which has reached something of a saturation point in recent months), maximalism (“it’s in”), and a renewed interest in primary-color-focused artists, like Calder and Hockney. “All of that,” she says, “combined with the fact that the news is depressing. So why not a rainbow?”

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Meant to recall the brightly colored Lands’ End catalogues of the late ’80s and early ’90s. “Tom Wolfe used this expression to describe brightly colored trousers: ‘go-to-hell pants.’ Those bright colors are such a key part of American quote-unquote preppy style, and as prep comes back into the mainstream, it’s not surprising to see them become a trend,” says Jack Carlson, Rowing Blazers’ founder.

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Designed by Nordstrom’s VP of creative projects, Olivia Kim, who made similar fanny packs and totes.

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This lamp, made by Paul Smith and Sir Kenneth Grange, was inspired by the De Stijl movement.

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Like a ’90s nylon ski jacket in sling-bag form.

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Made in collaboration with Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren, who has worn a striped shirt every day since 2001.

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These sneakers have a dash of Hey Arnold! and a dash of the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese.

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From Matter Matters, which also makes color-block cardigans, purses, and watches.

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A Mondrian-inspired timepiece, by minimalist Swedish watchmaker TID and London design agency Builders Club.

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Poketo’s entire fall collection was inspired by the Bauhaus’s 100th anniversary.

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Almost all of Entireworld’s offerings have a sort of Muji–meets–Sesame Street vibe.

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From artist Mansi Shah, who also makes undulating stop-sign-red hand mirrors.

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Pumps in the style of a vintage Peugeot bike.

*This article appears in the November 11, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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Kindercore: A Decidedly Toddler-esque Movement