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Grapat nins, sticks and wizards with loose parts

An introduction to Grapat

Alexis Ralphs Jun 04 • 7 min read
Grapat's simple creations make them perfect for open-ended and loose-part play.

Family-run Grapat is founded on the concept of natural simplicity. At their home in the Pyrenean mountains of Catalunya, Casiana and Jordi were inspired by watching their daughter play freely, with very few toys at her disposal. Unhindered by pre-determined ideas or games, she created worlds of her own from things she found at home or outside in nature, playing intensely for many happy hours.

Loose part play with Grapat rings, coins and cones

At first glance, Grapat's rings, coins and cones may seem limited to sorting and pattern-making. But play with them for a while and it soon becomes clear that their simple shapes and colours offer countless creative possibilities.

They realised that when children are given freedom to imagine, their play becomes something they take very seriously indeed, working hard at it for hours and days, immersed in universes of their own creation. Inspired by this experience with their daughter, they set out to create their vision, a world of play that could flourish for other children in the way their daughter’s had.

Grapat nins walking through a forest of mandala cones

Three nins take a journey through the woods.

Using only natural wood from their home in Catalunya, their creations are less toys than props for children to use how they want to: simple peg dolls (‘nins’), cups, bowls, balls and blocks are at the core of the range, all of them in earthy, natural shades with the wood’s grain left visible. The natural qualities of the wood, the sound and the smell as well as the look and feel, are an important part of the Grapat experience.

Grapat flowers arranged in a spiral for loose part play

Designed for loose-part play, these flower mandalas make pleasing patterns and arrangements.

Grapat means 'handful' in Catalan, and is suggestive of play with large quantities of undifferentiated objects. While the ethos is entirely non-prescriptive, there is an emphasis on 'loose part play' in the Grapat range. This is because loose parts offer so many different opportunities for play and grow with the child at every stage of their development, making them non-disposable and long-lasting. With their capacity for moving, sorting, stacking, arranging and hiding, loose parts ask children to problem-solve and investigate, question and assess, and continually change their own play, all without the child even realising. Loose parts can also be a toy in their own right, or work in conjunction with other toys or materials like clay or fabrics. They’re non gender-specific and offer infinite potential, whether the child is busy playing alone or with friends. What’s more, the colours and shapes of the loose parts, makes them beautiful to see and have around.

Grapat nins and houses with Grimm's cars

Paired here with Grimm's cars, the Grapat houses and figures come to life.

Grapat rainbow dishes for sorting

Grapat's Rainbow dishes have many uses, from sorting, seen here, to laying out activities for Montessori-inspired play. Serve pretend food in your cafe or combine with blocks to build towers.

Pared-back and brilliantly simple, Grapat toys will surprise and delight you with the way they capture your child’s imagination. We love Grapat and we hope you will too.

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