The complexity of the modern world is clear for everyone, it often displaces us, catches us unprepared and puts us in front of topics or scenarios that we don’t know how to deal with. Issues such as discrimination, marginalization, cyberbullying are on the agenda in newspapers and too frequently the protagonists of these events are the youngest because they’re fragile or naive. To counter these phenomena, Webecome was born, a service to prevent social unrest in primary school promoted by Intesa San Paolo.
One of the most common wishes in the hearts of toy designers is to create a toy that can entertain all the children in the world, or at least as many as possible. However, we know that it is not an easy challenge, not by chance designers tend to design for the average user in order to satisfy the greatest number of people…the others will adapt! But when we talk about group games, there is no worse thing than exclude someone from participating from the beginning; and if we put ourselves in the shoes of a blind or with any motor disability child this situation could happen often. But playing together becomes possible thanks to inclusive design, and this is proved by the two projects showed in this article.
As a designer I feel a sense of slight satisfaction in seeing beautiful products; if I then discover that they are not only beautiful to look at, but also easy and fun to use, well designed in all their parts, this satisfaction grows with the desire to share my reflections about it. This brief digression is to explain my state of mind when I discovered Yoto, an audio player designed for children…actually calling it audio player is a bit resizing, but let’s go one step at a time!
TOY Design Academy comes from the idea of a program open to all and from the concept that many ideas of games or toys often remain in an artisanal or private dimension. TOY Design Academy is born because I happen to talk to people who have ideas born spontaneously within educational, therapeutic, home or personal creativity contexts. But they remain there, undeveloped and undervalued, in the belief that the way to approach producers or publishers is out of reach for those who are not in the sector. And in part it is true, but in this way not only they do not bring any economic benefit to the creator / creator but, more importantly, they never reach the hands of those who could benefit from this idea. Learning to sell your ideas of games and toys is possible for anyone with talent or passion for this field and wants to make it grow and become an opportunity.
Those who already have another job that has nothing to do with toys is not uncommon for having the ability and the talent to create something playful, perhaps born with their children or grandchildren or with other children who are part of their personal life . But, listen, listen, it is above all when the ideas are born from really “played” activities that can give life to a game idea that can be sold. TOY Design Academy is born because it is the belief of some that these should remain “ideas in the drawer”. But in the drawers there is our creativity, our personal vision of the world. What if this vision was extremely new without you realizing it?
TOY Design Academy is born as an individual coaching path for those who have a passion for the game but who do not come from the field of design or licensing. The toy industry is a demanding and complex sector if you are a beginner. After more than 15 years of activity I can say that the work of ideation / invention is an activity in which the “precision of the action” is fundamental: it takes very little for an idea to be set aside, become obsolete or waste energy in an attempt to open doors that you don’t know how to open and with what approach.
There are also other training proposals that go in this direction, but they exist in the post-university training, certainly valid and that have the great advantage of giving an encyclopedic training on the training of the toy designer, also including notions of developmental psychology. , production technologies, toy safety, etc … all absolutely right for anyone who intends to do this profession professionally or work in toy companies. But what if you come from other fields? Translating ideas into earning opportunities was first a personal challenge for me, now one is a mission. I would like to allow those who are creative to reach the goal of creating a personal business on their own ideas, also in parallel with other work activities.
Here, for this reason TOY Design Academy is born, for the desire to propose a different approach, that is to start from the objective of selling one’s own ideas by supplying understandable tools and “practical” advice to reach this objective as soon as possible. I too, when I was less experienced, happened to look at the mountain and say “it’s too high”. But all the mountains, even the highest ones, are covered starting from a first step. That’s why I call it “path”. An individualized path that gives freedom to those who participate in it to carry out the work phases with their own time, skills and resources. And where the skills should be missing, support with practical and fast solutions to be able to sell your idea.
If you have always dreamed of sleep like a baby in adulthood, just know that, according to the Italian Society of Pediatrics, 25% of children under 5 years of age suffer from sleep disorders and after 6 this percentage drops around at 10-12%. These data leave little space for interpretation and tell of a widespread problem that affects first and foremost the development of children. These are some of the reasons behind the design of a sleep trainer for children.
The designer’s job has radically changed in recent decades, it continues to evolve and receive interesting stimuli and facing challenges of global impact; we are not telling you anything new but it is good to stop sometimes and think about how our profession is closely linked to a social context and observe how it influences and is influenced by technological and human progress. I have recently made these thoughts when I discovered and deepened the project ‘Design for Children’s right guide’, or the guide to design with respect for children’s rights and to act at the core of the creative process.
What brought Awareness Toys at Games for Health Europe and on ADI Design Index 2019 I think it was especially the idea of being able to create toys for adults.
The project, born from the cooperation with Dario Gianoli, counselor educated in generative psychopedagogy, started in 2015 with the goal of bringing objects that could act as facilitators at diverse levels into educational practices. The concepts of instability, void and loss have been represented through simple shapes in order to be able to “dress” with player’s thoughts, memories and emotions.
Awareness Toys have been presented last 8 October at Games For Health Europe 2019, a conference focussed on serious games we already spoke about in this post, this year at its ninth edition. In a context where digital and virtual reality have been main characters, these totally analog toys have tried to give a different perspective on the role of sensory activation in the play as well as on the role of the educator/guide in such critical and deep educational paths.
The collection has also run for the selection of the ADI Deign Index 2019, yearly publication produced by the Italian Industrial Design Association, that every year brings together the best Italian design in production, selected by the ADI’s Permanent Design Observatory. The selection features both products and product systems from diverse markets, theoretical-critical researches, process or corporate researches applied to design. Awareness Toys have been featured in the section of Social Design in the occasion of the presentation of the publication, held in Milan the last 14 October at the Auditorium of the National Science and Technology Museum “Leonardo da Vinci”. An award that confirms the innovative approach of the project and opens it to a specialized audience. Awareness Toys at Games for Health Europe and on ADI Design Index 2019 is maybe the signal of something changing, of an attention that is moving toward play and the adult world.
When we play (or we played, that’s up to you), we are used to following instructions, opening a booklet that explains how that toy works or listening to indications, a more or less rigid path that guides us in a sequence of actions. What if all this was limiting for a child? What would happen if instead of following consequential steps, was given a final goal without caring about the route? We find out with Rigamajic, a toy without instructions that challenges different clichés related to the sphere of childhood and the toy world in general.
There’s something magical between 5 and 12 y.o. If you’ve ever chat with a child of this age, you can understand what I mean; it’s easy to be fascinated by the great imagination that develops from the post-childhood growth phase, until adolescence. What I mainly envy as a designer is the spontaneity in the invention of a game, an activity or an object totally free from economic or functional limits. It is no coincidence that different techniques for generating ideas, such as brainstorming, encourage to become child again, to free the flow of thoughts from any productive or practical constraint, on the assumption that there are no wrong ideas, to become little inventors for huge ideas.
Innovation in the toy world can born in many ways, with a new material, a new technology or ideas out of the ordinary. Sometimes happens that the difference starts from a strategy, a series of choices and actions that leads a company to position on a different level than its competitors. This is the case of Sago mini, a toy designers studio, a place of contamination but above all a company, a brand that deals with designing a storytelling through digital and physical game for preschool children. This Canadian reality is particularly interesting for the wide approach to the project and for the business planning that has carried out from 2013 to today.