We purchased this extremely rare ZoLO toy set at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1987. As designers, we recognized this as another example of 80s design as valid as the concepts and products being created by Ettore Sottssass and the group of Milanese artists referred to as Memphis. These were industrial designers who in essence re-invented what we considered Modern Design. The movement marked the end of the 20th century. Revered mid-century modern designer, George Nelson said in 1983, “Memphis is not in any atlas. It is a state of the soul, the soul at the end of the 20th century. If you didn’t know that the 20th century has a soul now you know.” True, Byron Glaser and Sandra Higashi, the creators of ZoLO were not among Sottssass, Matteo Thun, Peter Shire, George Sowden, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Marco Zannini, … but their colorful, eccentric, pop, cutting edge toy emerged from the influences of that new international design called Memphis.
This original ZoLO was handcrafted in 1986, hand carved and hand painted, each box was a work of art but also contained the resources for imaginative works of art. The exterior sleeve states: “Lurking within this box are 50 twisty, twirly, squiggly, wiggly, knobby, blobby, and polka-dotty handmade wooden pieces waiting to be put together. Just release your imagination, and ZoLO will go wild.” “ZoLO can be anything you want it to be. Just open your mind, feel from your heart and discover the world of ZoLO.” We also have the original tri-fold postcard to be sent back to the Old Chelsea Station, NY postal address. It was included to gather a data base “as part of their continuing effort to develop products that inspire the hearts and minds” from the recipients including their contact information, “livelihood, amusements, favorite playthings, three wishes, comments & doodles.” It was obvious the creators were impassioned and having fun!
This, ZoLo “Designed by Raw Materials” is in excellent vintage condition. It is proto-typical.The original printed die cut cardboard sleeve still slips over the plywood box. The original makers attempted to clean up their still rough cut boxes with wood putty to mask the nails that hold the box together, note, this is original, not a repair. We count 55 pieces, including the fiber material drawstring bag which stores the smaller pieces. It was “played with” less than a hand full of times by us. The latex rubber on one piece has dried out over time, naturally and one curved connector was carefully repaired. This sculptural plaything is extraordinary, rare indeed, especially in its condition and completeness!