When I was a kid I didn't have LEGO; I was a fan of MECCANO, invented in Liverpool in 1898 and sold in the States as Erector sets. Alas, the company was kicked around for decades and never had the focus that the LEGO people did. It's a shame because I still think it is a better toy where you can do just about anything, instead of just piling up blocks.
And now I can enjoy it as a grown-up with MECCANO Home, where I can build full sized furniture out of the twenty different modules. It is the ultimate in flatpack and flexibility. They are quoted in Designboom:
Just like the original games, MECCANO HOME meets specific perforation standards that are compatible with MECCANO’s familiar nut and screw system. This hardware sees the leg of a chair also being used for supporting a coffee table, or a stool. It is the nut, that was designed and built by the MECCANO HOME team which is at the center of the modular concept, allowing simplified assembly and dismantling of pieces without any damage. This hardware is available in eight different colors, interchangeable with the metal modules — all of which are treated and finished with the same paint used for outdoor furniture, ensuring resistance and durability.
OK, some might consider the look to be a bit industrial, but the principle is brilliant. Unlike IKEA which has a thousand different connectors to lose and to pull out of the particleboard, here there are standard holes and a single nut and bolt with endless flexibility. It's made of steel and will last forever. And if you get bored, you can just change it into something else. Love it. More images at Designboom.