We recommend this weekend's NY Times Magazine Section, which is a design issue devoted to children's design. While much of it runs the gauntlet of masquerading as a gift/gadget guide, the tension between materialism and simplicity is evident and discussed.
Elizabeth Weil's "The Modernist Nursery" gets to the heart of the matter but stops short of passing judgement, as she interviews a number of notable designers/parents:
"Contemporary design for kids is really contemporary design for adults who have procreated."
''I realize the fact of the matter is that's the mass market, and that's what sells. But it's not my aesthetic. I don't need all the bells and whistles, and I think a growing number of people feel that way.''