When it comes to designing toys, it is crucial to not only develop a balance between open-ended play, structure, and safety, but also to incorporate creativity and innovation. Students from the Division of Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore have created a set of inspiring toys through the PLAY project. Led by Clement Zheng and Studio Juju, the 11-week course set out to express the essence of play through interactive research, storytelling, and prototypes. Click through our gallery to behold these thoughtfully designed toys that are an enlightened and refreshing departure from mainstream playthings.
The PLAY design platform features a number of simple, yet ingenious toys. The LUMA (shown above) is a set of vehicles that shine and leave glowing trails in the dark. Great for building social skills, each adventure allows children to create their own relationships and stories behind the figures.
MINIMALS are abstract, wooden animals that have been reduced to their most recognizable characteristics. By keeping the creatures uncomplicated, players have the option to endow them with their own personalities. The 5 x 5 x 5 cm cubes resemble building blocks, and can be easily stored alongside other belongings.
Almost every child loves to play with their food. PotatoPlay gives parents and kids an outlet for a little edible fun. Each piece of the set is made out the delicious tuber to engage young minds and hands with new textures, shapes, and smells.
The Rock and Roll is a dynamic toy meant to explore motion. Kids can either sit and rock inside the frame, or flip it over to roll around like a car. A nice alternative to plastic scooters, the open wooden structure also leaves space for kids to invent their own imaginary buttons, levers, and windows.
UP IN THE AIR calls upon bold shapes and colors to delight little hands and eyes. Varying table and chair heights can be constructed from the objects, and budding architects have the opportunity to practice coordination.
The WATER DRUMS are a complete set of noise makers that float on water. By tapping the top, children can make different sounds and rhythms in their own bath tubs or swimming pools. By requiring another element to function, the drums call upon a child’s creativity and resourcefulness.
To encourage imagination and physicality, the ZIG ZIG is a T-shirt that magically turns itself into a canvas for storytelling. Each of the soft items can be moved around the shirt, letting kids use their minds and bodies to act out scenes and perform their stories for others.
By relying on a child’s innate ability to create their own fun, the PLAY project pares down the penchant for modern designers to add as many bells and whistles as possible. Knowing that kids are the most engaged and proud when they invent their own stories, the toys lets kids guide their own development.