Work Hard, Play Hard with Toy Product Design

April 17, 2017

If there is one thing students in Toy Product Design know, it’s how to play hard and work even harder. All semester long, they’ve been creating the next big thing in toy design and on May 3rd all of that hard work will pay off when they present their final products at PLAYsentations.

Open to students from all disciplines, Toy Product Design is a hands-on, project-based class that challenges students to create a toy based around a central theme. This year’s theme was chosen by the primary class sponsor, Target. “We were asked to create a seasonal product that will bring the family together during the summer, winter, or Halloween,” explained Roohi Katarya (Product Design) a member of the Red Team.

Organized into teams of five or six, students with backgrounds in everything from retail merchandising to engineering work together to create the best toy possible. Using the theme as their guide, each team brainstorms a number of different designs. “It takes a lot of idea generation, research, and prototyping to make a good product,” said Jason Lamour (Retail Merchandising), a member of the Periwinkle Team.

From initial brainstorming to sketching, preliminary prototyping, and finalizing a design, each team worked with industry members, children, and parents in a series of play-testing events held throughout the semester. “There are a lot of things that go into creating a product. Before going through the process myself I didn’t really appreciate all of the time and thought that goes into making even the most basic toy,” said Alex Jones (Materials Science & Engineering and Product Design) a member of the Magenta Team.

Although every team starts with the same assignment and prompt, the final products are all unique. “My group is working on an outdoor product for families to use in the summer. The final product will be a shark hat that crushes water balloons on your head,” said Lamour.

Katarya’s Red Team is working on a Reuse Confetti Cannon, “We recognized that a lot of waste is created during the holidays, so we wanted to make a toy that would be fun for the family while also teaching kids about the aspect of recycling.”

A photograph of a confetti cannon.

Beyond their final product, Toy Product Design leaves its participants with more than just a grade, “Before this class, I couldn’t have told you how to use a bandsaw, belt sander, hot wire cutter, laser cutter, or a 3D printer. I didn’t know anything about SolidWorks, Illustrator, or Arduino. Honestly, I have learned so many practical skills for my future, it’s amazing. This is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity,” concluded Jones.

After two years of pursuing a degree in engineering, Ben Leibham (B.S. ’18, Product Design) knew that something was missing. In search of a field that would combine his interests in art, engineering, and business, Ben spoke with an industrial designer who encouraged him to pursue a degree in product design.

In May 2018, the College of Design’s Product Design Program graduated its inaugural class of undergraduate students.

The following post was written by product design student Sarah Prescott.