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Noriko Marshall's dollhouse is not one of those pink Victorians with Barbie dolls. It's a solar dollhouse that Marshall, a Seattle landscape architect, plays with now that her kids are grown. It’s a modern construction, built at 3/4-inch scale, and it’s got all the adult-style luxuries: scored hardwood floors, cut-stone walls, mitered glass corners, wood beams and sliding glass doors. Rooftop solar panels power the recessed LED lighting and two small fireplaces in the kitchen. Six spacious rooms spread across an open floor plan. The ultra-modern Emerson House, designed by Brinca Dada, hosts a living room, kitchen, library/office, master bedroom, bathroom and child’s bedroom. Marshall has populated her house with Brinca Dada’s line of modern dollhouse furniture pieces and dolls that are not your ordinary kids’ dolls. Emerson House is environmentally-friendly, made with only non-toxic , lead-free wood stains and paints. The dollhouse received an Eco-Choice Award, sponsored by The New York International Gift Fair and GreenRetailer; the awards are decided by popular ballot from among the entries in NYIGF's juried SustainAbility display.
Interview with Brinca Dada co-founder Doug Rollins
by Dwell Magazine, June 2010
What were you doing before launching Brinca Dada? I was a toy buyer for ToysRUs.com and was buying a lot of ugly toys. I realized there's a market for modern toys.
Why did you decide to start with a dollhouse? It was a good start because there's already a modern aesthetic and style. I went to Tim [Byle, Brinca Dada co-founder and design principal], who's an architect, and asked if an architect would design a dollhouse. He got on board and we created the Emerson House.
Are kids really supposed to play with the dollhouse? We make toys adults like to look at and kids like to play with. My three-year-old daughter jumps on hers, sits on hers. It had to be something fun and sturdy.
Where is the house being made? A: We went to U.S. manufacturers but no one would do it for us—no one would even give us a quote! We found a manufacturer in China that does eco-friendly toys; he really helped us make the Emerson House more green.
What's green in the house? It's made of birch or woods that are CARB certified. All the paint is non-toxic. There are also working solar panels that charge the rechargeable battery that is used to power the LED lights in the house. There are also materials like acrylic so we say we
Where can consumers purchase the Emerson House? We sell it on our own site, www.brincadada.com, and also from stores like FAO Schwartz and other smaller shops around the country.
What's next for the company? Next is the Bennett dollhouse, which is a townhouse. For 2011, we'll be branching out beyond dollhouses but of course also making more dollhouses.
Solaripedia's Francesca Lyman and Robin Rogers visited with with Noriko Marshall and her dollhouse. Interview with Noriko Marshall, landscape architect and modern dollhouse owner
Solaripedia, November 2011
What made you consider a modern dollhouse? Not that I looked for a modern dollhouse, but I wanted a minimalistic, glass covered and light filled dollhouse. My family room has a great view of the lake and mountains. I thought it would be super cool to see the views through the dollhouse. I love Philip Johnson's Glasshouse.
What are your favorite features of the dollhouse? There is a pivot pole in the center and you can open up the house if you want. The design in general is superb. I like the flat roof too. I will eventually create a roof garden.
Why is solar important to you? I live in a richy, suburban neighborhood. Houses are huge. We often have blackouts due to fallen trees hitting electric lines. Oh, boy. The noise of the generators from neighboring houses are intolerable.
How does this dollhouse fit into your views on sustainability? Solar power generating recessed ceiling lights is great. However, this dollhouse contributes to sustainability more by being such a great quality and design. I will not let it go to the garbage dump.
Is the dollhouse on display where visitors can see it? Yes.
How is this dollhouse different than a child’s dollhouse for you? It is basically the same. Kids should be exposed to high quality toys, foods and books.
Anything else you can think of? I am going to knit a dress for my doll. She has been in underwear too long.