Spielwarenmesse: The toy designers of tomorrow

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Design for Kids and Toys
  Movers & shakers

Movers & shakers

The toy designers of tomorrow

from Spielwarenmesse eG

What do children like to play with? What features does a toy need for parents or children to buy it? Before a finished product ever makes it on to the market, manufacturers and designers tackle lots of questions when designing toys. Students studying “Design for Kids & Toys” in Milan are learning how an engaging toy is formed out of complex requirements.

Innovative, sustainable, of educational value and fun. A toy has to meet many criteria to satisfy the wishes of parents and children. As the toy industry is always looking for fresh ideas, the POLI.design consortium of the Polytechnic University of Milan has set itself the goal of training a new generation of toy designers. The course is being sponsored by Assogiocattoli, the Italian Toy Manufacturers Association, and is aimed at designers, graphic artists and Marketing and Business graduates.

A new generation of toy designers

According to Luca Fois, the course’s Communication Professor, the toy designers of tomorrow need more than imagination to get from an idea to a finished toy: „The qualities that characterize a toy designer are: ethics, creativity, know how and open minded to the different skills  that are necessary to design products for the children. A toy designer has to be a design manager, not only a designer.“

To gain these and other skills, students of the “Design for Kids & Toys” course cover a broad range of topics, divided into theoretical principles and practical work, including workshops. Important theoretical aspects are covered:

  • Strategic design for children and toys
  • The history of toy design
  • Companies, industries and markets
  • Technologies and materials
  • Safety regulations
  • Child development, education, psychology, cognitive ergonomics
  • Ethics and children’s rights
  • The distribution and marketing of toys

In the practical study modules, the aspiring toy designers work closely with the toy industry and design experts. The students not only develop toy prototypes but also gain an insight into toy production, and research product service innovations and sales strategies for different markets.

Innovative ideas are a must

Fois, who took part in the Spielwarenmesse® 2015 with a dedicated “Design for Kids & Toys” stand, believes there is demand in the industry for toy designers with a flair for innovations and the play needs of children.

His impression is that many toy innovations to date have just been evolutions of existing products. Also, the technical possibilities on offer have not been sufficiently tapped. That is why the toy designers of tomorrow must not be put off by complex product requirements and obstacles, but should show courage and self-confidence in coming up with new ideas.

At the end of the day, Fois believes a well thought-through concept, from design through to marketing, is essential to successfully bringing a toy to market. „Today the companies have to be more international and tighten a strong relationship with the customers, that are increasingly aware of the real values and not just those perceived. No company can ignore the strategic design approach, a design activity that concerns the product-system, integrating products, services and communication strategies.”

How will the toys of the future look?

It is not only the toy industry, but also the customer, who benefits in the end from the “Design for Kids & Toys” knowledge. Luca Fois also has an idea of how the toys of the future may look. „The future is all to create, but we can say that tradition and technology will merge together more and more, maintaining the respect for social and environmental impact that must be present in toys and games. The materials will be natural, related to memory and manual creativity”.

Until May 31, the course presents its own exhibition in Milan on "Design in Toys". The exhibition is dedicated to the latest trends, innovations, developments and milestones in today's toys design.

Trends and innovative products are also a key aspect of the Spielwarenmesse®. Discover the trends in the toy industry for 2015 in the TrendGallery! Innovative, award-winning products can be found through the ToyAward.


Author of this article:

Spielwarenmesse eG

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