TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci




Tic Tac Tree is a wooden toy in which the traditional tic tac toe game has been taken as playing platform to achieve the ambitious goal of instilling environmental consciousness to kids.

The old cross and circle have been replaced by pins of 2 different tones of green, representing trees. The old grid has been laser printed on the wooden hill that serves as a board.

The physical action of planting trees is emphasized by the fact that the winner is the player that makes the row of course, but also the one that has planted more trees on the hill-shaped board.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


taste for dexterity

japanese and french did it.. so why can’t we?

In the 16th century French invented the Bilboquet (literally ball with little tree) and soon after Japanese Kendama came. We are not sure about who really invented it first. What we care about is: what would it have happened if Italians made their own version too?

Well, Bigusto can be the delight of kids and adults as well, but not for long.. It looks like an icecream, but behind a chocolate and srawberry ball hides the challenge. Originally bilboquet has one ball with a hole and placing the pin in the hole can be a very tough challenge. But what if we have 2 balls connected with each other and we also have magnets?

The game provides the chance to exercise on 8 different moves: ball in the cone, ball over the other one, and so on.. Kids and adults can start from the easiest and gradually go to more complex ones, the ones that exploit the power of magnets, where a very good control of the cone and the ball is not easy to reach. This lets the game be played at different levels, and this makes it not only more inclusive and less frustrating at the beginning, but also very engaging long in time.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


inspiring nature

how can a toy be magic as nature?

I have always been stunned by the beauty and perfection of a natural (and vital) process like photosynthesis. The natural pigment that allows plants to get energy from the sun during the day is called chlorophyll, and through it carbon dioxide is stored and transformed into oxygen.

I tryed to embody this magic into a toy and the domino dots seemed perfectly matching the image. This time nature was really by my side because this is a toy that actually needs to stay out of the cabinet to work properly, it asks to be shown as part of the house, or even better behind a window.

Usually domino for kids tend to attract kids with characters and colours, but this time the surprise was also that nature inspired also an extra performance of this domino game, not only in the meaning but in the play value. In fact this domino allows kids to play in the dark, which is something I really used to enjoy when I was a kid.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


aiming at magic

can a caterpillar fly?

No scientist could ever tell you that a caterpillar can fly. In fact they need to become butterfly before being able to do that. Well, this caterpillar is different. He decided that he could not wait, so he put his flying goggles on and shoot himself from a cannon in the direction of the apple.

The story of Brucovolante is about a character that did not accept his destiny, his nature. But did not get sad about it, instead he found an other way to achieve that ambitious (yet dangerous) goal. That is why kids must be careful to target the cannon in the direction of the apple represented by the red ring.

It can be played in a wide range of variants of the game: changing the distance from the ring, the orientation of the cannon or even the orientation of the ring. This allows the toy to be played at different stages of dexterity and so having a longer life for the kid.

While enjoying the story and the game kids train their targeting ability, balance, self-perception and identification.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


wings of change

how to make a rocking horse a new and more engaging experience?

A rocking horse is one of the oldest typology of toys since ever. It has been decorated exclusively, upholstered with care, made in many different materials. But the wooden one definitely embodies the stereotype of this toy that has been the fun of kids since the 17th century. With such history it is quite a challenge to innovate it, and this is something I love.

Sometimes it is interesting how intuition plays a critical role in innovation. The spring effect given by multi-layered wood was the key for a functional innovation that did not touch the natural look of the wooden rocking horse, instead increasing its identity and making it contemporary. Multi-layered wood also allowed me to summarize the constructive elements into just one, simple and clean as the original intuition: an S-shaped element that recalled the horse chest in the front and the paws on the back. This very graphical constructive element has been the first step for the rest of the design challenge ahead: bring the whole toy into a light, clean and modern look. The result is a very dynamic identity that recalls very much a flight, just like the best experience of gallop should be! That is why the saddle with its pockets reminds the shape of two little wings and the horse is called Icaro,  the name of the mythological greek hero that built wings to escape the labyrinth.

Another important goal for the project was to enhance lyfecycle performances, to make Icaro a long-time play companion rather than a toy for a narrow age spectrum. I felt the spring effect had a very good potential for entertainment in the early months. Moving back and forward, up and down.. it was the hint for further development. The first intent, in order to lower the target age, was to reduce the movement to reduce risk and also make it more stable and safe. We found it could be used as first chair by mounting the rocker base the other way up. At the same time we made the side protection removable, so the rocking horse could also be used by older kids.


Client: Il Leccio

TOY Projects


10 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


inspired by clouds

CAN A wooden toy be as playful and imaginative as watching clouds?

With Animix I wanted to design a toy where wood is not perceived as concrete, squared, hard but instead where wood has a fluid behaviour, where inspiration occurs through free interpretation of shapes. Just like lying down on the grass, watching the clouds and seeing a dog, a crocodile, a convertible car and so on.. I have always been enjoying this pastime because I consider it a training to find sense and meaning in the reality, somehow a way to think about the fact that reality passes through everyone of us in very different ways. Moreover, I have always been fascinated by balloon artists and the way they are able to create from the same support very different creations by simply adjusting distances crosses and assembly.

This is the reason why I have decided not to over-exemplify what kids can create, but only give some suggestions to allow them to tune with the right abstraction code and then go with their own fantasy inventing whatever pops into their minds. In this sense the choice to leave the wood raw has been made to allows kids to decorate them with pencils or paste textiles and other materials that can make them realize the character they are figuring out.

TOY Projects


9 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


a tender WOOD statement

can a wooden character look soft and inspire good feelings?

With Tondotti I wanted to value wood for its sensorial and non-physical features. Wood is the favorite material not only of educators, caregivers, and therapists but also for parents and kids. It is the learning material par excellence and I believe it is not only about the peculiar extraordinary sensations it gives but also about something difficult to explain in words that seems linked to the “natural connection” it is able to establish with humans. In this way tree-hugging does make sense to me and I really felt designing this was a very engaging challenge. I really wanted to translate this emotional, or even spiritual, potential into those products.

I found round shapes were the best to represent this shift I wanted to tell about. Wood is very versatile, it can give very different feelings if it is worked as “hard and squared” rather than as “soft and round” material. The client was a family company, established in 1924 near the Como lake, just starting with its own toy brand, and this was an incredible coincidence because its core technology was wood-turning. Moreover they wanted to lead the company through its fourth generation of family experience and the human value of contributing to such great ambition was a great motivation for me and for the project.

The company know-how had been employed and re-interpreted shifting from the old stereotypes of wooden toys made from wood-turning technology to new and contemporary characters. The traditional assembly limits of round shapes have been passed by digging shapes within each other in order to make them look like melt together, free from their turning axis.

The project has been developed within the DAC – Design For Arts and Crafts scholarship, coordinated by Prof. Venanzio Arquilla, for which I was selected as designer and that was the first encounter with the company.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


1 July 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci



how can a bead game ignite creativity and be multi-purpose?

Wooden beads one of the most common icons for wooden toys. They have been produced since ever in many kinds of versions, from the very early months to jewelry kits for bracelets and necklaces. The age usually determines the look and of course what is inside the kit of beads, like laces and other non-bead accessories.

With Kits I wanted to bring sense and play potential to the widespread possibilities of turned wooden beads, one of company’s core products. The countless form and color possibilities have been organized into a palette of 12 colors in scale and 18 SKUs in total. The open spirit that often leads my will in fact made me strongly desire also raw wood versions, and that is to emphasize the feel that they have to be seen as “fuel for creativity”, they need the interaction with the kids to become something. And in this sense raw wood and ever-changing shapes is a perfect sense activator for kids to explore and imagine.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


10 June 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


building chances

how can we enhance froebel’s blocks with something unexpected?

Friedrich Froebel’s blocks are perhaps the world’s first educational toy. In this toy child’s development is for the first time brought into the preschool method, the Kindergarted, developed by him in the 17th century. They appear deceptively simple but represent a sophisticated approach to child development, thatfor the next centuries interacted with art, design, education and popular culture. So, this is a very interesting point of them: the skill to become something different for different observers, a “platform” game, something kids can develop with, having discovery and trial/error as only tools in the game.

Build has tried to push the concept of allowing children play not only with regular and modular shapes but also with non-modular and unexpected shapes where a direct geometrical relation is less immediate and needs a further study of the possibilities. And this is necessarily a practical rather than abstract activity. Sometimes in life you need to do in order to understand what is better to be done, and this is the case. For example it can happen that a ring does not fit a cube but maybe it does well for a cylinder, or building attempts can come from combinations made not only by overlapping of blocks but also by less stable balancing.

Client: Milaniwood

TOY Projects


2 June 2015 — by Fabio_Guaricci


playfully educational


As  consumers we have been taught that a toy is something you can buy in toy stores, that follows the international laws for safety, that comes usually in a colorful box, and so on.. The fact is: what about when playing was an approach to reality rather than a readymade product? When children used to play with cups, beads, little wooden branches, strings, paper balls. It is just “revealing” when we realize that toys like the ones we have grown with are products of the industrial age, while children have grown and played with just everything they have available. You might say: “Oh yes, but today’s toys are conceived for their mental development”. That is true, that is the good stuff. Nevertheless I think there is a risk. And that is not allow kids to have occasions of actually making their own toys, train that very useful skill that every adult craves, that is giving sense out of the mass. 

I designed Surprise to be an ever-changing 4 Kilos of second-hand wooden bits in a cotton bag. There was a time when those powerful play resources were burnt of thrown away. Now every Surprise bag, that has also a very low price, is different to one-another because it goes with the production. For this reason we could not make this product CE certified and consider it a toy. I think that is a good thing for the safety of kids but I also think that children must have more chances to play and explore freely with adult’s supervision.

Client: Milaniwood