Children evolve ever more in the virtual world, therefore changing the role to play for physical toys in their education and upbringing. Where virtual experiences commonly offer preconceived scenarios in which the child is trained to think along, physical toys can offer a more imaginative potential, challenging the child to cultivate own creativity and personality.
Designed for the company Ardennes Toys, Small Worlds is a toy challenging the child to become the creator and director of a very own and personal world, with an own set of rules, meanings and aesthetic. It is locally produced in the Ardennes, Belgium and is at this point the first toy using the innovative formaldehyde-free MDF Fibrabel® Pure in their collection.
The toy is a kit consisting of a base grid and a set of shapes, both made from formaldehyde-free MDF Fibrabel® Pure, and completed by a set of water-based gouache markers. The kits propose thematic worlds like The City, The Sea, The Farm,… composed of shapes designed to trigger the imagination; their are neither too abstract nor too figurative and were developed through workshops with children of different age groups. The shapes can perform multiple roles and function in various scenarios depending on the meaning assigned by the child. The base grid forms the connecting part of the toy, allowing for the shapes to be arranged and the worlds to be played with. Shapes and grids however can also be stacked or joined into new entities and several grids can be joined into a bigger world. The gouache markers allow the child to make an own interpretation of the given shapes and the meaning they shall have.
The themes were imagined to inspire. It has been essential for the studio to leave the child the freedom to define their own universe for themselves. By designing shapes that provide clues but are not too defined, the toy can really become « their own » : objects children will build a personal and sustainable relationship with all while cultivating creativity.
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