Future + Toy Design Workshop at UABB - Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale Shenzhen


Conference poster
In June I have been in Shenzhen working on an agreement between the FAUP and A+E Design, a local architectural office. The main idea was creating traineeships program for FAUP students who could travel to China and spend six mouths working in very different professional framework. 
The agreement is almost done, the first group of students will travel to Shenzhen in March 2016 and I must confess that I'm very proud because I consider this agreement as a big step for new relationships between the Faculty of Architecture of Porto and other foreign institutions putting the FAUP in the leading world framework of schools. 
Meanwhile I was there, during a meeting at the Shenzhen Center for Design, they invited me to organize a toy design workshop during the opening week of UABB (Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale Shenzhen). When I got back to Porto I soon start working on this idea and I thought that it would be better to deeply involve the Faculty in the UABB. So from September to December I organized the FAUP participation to the Biennale and 2 conferences  besides the toy design workshop (here the link to the course presentation)... three really crazy months, for sure, but finally everything was done!

The chinese experience was absolutely amazing, from every point of view. Professionally, for sure, it is always a great experience because when we lecture in a different cultural environment, we really learn a lot. But also from the personal point of view it was highly enriching because I met good friends in a fantastic human ambiance. 


Starting with a "long" lecture in order to introduce the students to the main aspects of toy design, the course continued during five days. During this week participants developed their own prototypes and, on Wednesday, we organized a visit to two spaces: a wooden workshop and a toy factory near Shenzhen (near Shenzhen means something like 2,5 hours by car...). A very good experience for the students that finally realized how dolls are made. 


Finally, on friday, we organized a final presentation and each participant presented hits own toys to the audience by a powerpoint presentation. 

Some ideas and models in the very beginning

Some prototypes
Other prototypes

"The Cube" exercise at 2015/16 Architectural Toys course

Also this year I challenged my student in order to face the cube exercise and the results were amazing. I believe, more and more, that this kind of works are fundamental for students that are still far from the real production of the objects. Indeed they very rarely touch and feel the real material and the connection with wood, steel or concrete is limited to a certain patter in Autocad or a texture in some other 3D software.
Also this time the the main rule was that the solid produced should be inscribed or circumscribed in a cube, in other words the cube must be "readable" into the solid. The unique change that I introduced this year is reducing the cube size. Last year was 20 cm and this year was 15, this because the space the all cubes occupy in my office...


MYTHO - mythologická stavebnice / mythological construction set

Last year I lectured at the Pilsen Art Camp a Toy Design course. This year Pilsen is the European Capital of Culure 2015 and when I went back for lecturing again at the ArtCamp 2015 I found a city full of exhibitions and happening. 
Of course some exhibition was about Ladislav Sutnar, his graphic and industrial design works, painting and, for sure, toys. The three exhibitions are part of the project The Return of Ladislav Sutnar which comprises a number of activities, in which Sutnar's work will gradually, during the course of 2015, be presented to the public. But all of them absolutely unmissable.


I must to confess that I felt really happy when, in a collateral exhibition at Pilsen Municipal Gallery, I saw some toys designed by Pavla Boháčová, a student from the last year course, and that was already in production for selling. Mytho, that's the toy's name, is a construction set inspired on mythological figures. Made by colored wood, Mytho in sold in a box with several pieces that allow to build Pegasus, Centaur or Unicorn, among others.

As a teacher is a really great proud when your student start his journey by himself. Is some kind of circle that, finally, reaches its final shape. Congratulation Pavla!

Here the official site: http://www.kutulu.cz

ArtCamp 2015 in Pilsen


One more time I’ll have been in Pilsen at Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of art and design for the ArtCamp 2015. One more time I loved the experience in that inspiring city and school with a great class of students coming from all around the world.
As it happened last year, after a first approach made by lecturing a class about some theoretical topics, students started developing their own proposals with great results.

It is always quite interesting to see how each cultural background can influence the toy design processes. Indeed 11 students from different countries, since Czech Republic to Slovakia, Poland, USA, Japan and China, developed toys that, in different ways, represent their own countries, traditions and personal skills.  

Honorata, from Lodz University of Technology in Poland, developed a toy based on stamps technology. An A4 format box contains paper sheets with trees images that can be completed with leaves, birds, fruits, etc... The final result are images with a high artistic quality also because the gradual ink attenuation during the process.  


Rachel, from USA, is a jewelery designer created a kind of mountable doll house that has a simple and abstract language based on simply volumes and colors. The player can change the configuration and create easily several different building for different scenarios.


Moe, from Japan, was interested in infant toys so she worked on two toys for early ages. One is a rattle with smooth forms and nice colors. The other is a small construction kit based on dragons and stars images that can be easily build. Moe worked also on packaging and marketing design improving a bag for both toys and a catalog that help to understand how they works.


Also Sylwia and Monika came from Lodz in Poland. Sylwia and she worked on a changeable figure based on a wooden sliced cylinder. Rotating the different slices you can change the body configuration between several variations. The technology is quite interesting because it can be used with other subjects as animals or even graphic combinations.


Monika, created a toy based on the kaleidoscope technology. A truncated pyramid with, inside, mirrors that reflect each other creating great optical effects. Besides it is possible to put inside the volume other accessories as other mirrors or panels in order to improve the reflection effects.


Muyi came from the Tokyo Art School and was fascinated by birds, their colors and shapes. So she designed a series of three bird with vivid colors and movements. She used steel springs in order to joint the body parts made by styrofoam and allow the head shake in a very funny neck moving.

video


Sarah, a student from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, started very soon with two toys: one based on balance and the other on patterns. The first toy that ca be used as a game by several peoples because exist a stick where each one should put one of the many colored pieced that are delivered with toy. Each piece has a different weight (with a color code) and a different size so players have to carefully choose the piece and its position. The other toy can be a solitaire or a game and it is a kind of puzzle made by cubes painted with four different patterns that you can joint together following the same color configuration.


Magdalena, also from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, worked on the hat idea. Indeed her toy is a changeable magic hat that can be wear by the children creating a new character. Beside the hat is always an important accessory for kids because is something quite unusual in the normal dress code and can be used as a very meaningful object symbolizing a profession or a special social condition.


Andrea, from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, love to sew and this passion is visible in her toy. The main idea is a series of animals that are oviparous (animals that lay eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother). So she created four animals - a snake, a snail, a fish and a tortoise - that you can reverse and turn into an egg.


Petr, the unique man in a a women's class, was interested in an object that could change the space around the kid. He invented a seat that can be used as projector in a dark room creating shadows and other light effects. In this way the player can not only understand some basic knowledge about shadows but also play with his own environment.


Finally Jana, one more student from Ladislav Sutnar Faculty, designed a kind of puppets that can be mounted in a large number of ways. Eyes, ears, arms, legs, horns, etc.. are all connectable with a main body in order to create funny monsters or strange creatures. All is painted with vivid colors and dots and fit in a colored box. At the end of the workshop a child appeared in the school and start enjoying with Jana's toy, the best test each toy designer could deserve!


See you at ArtCamp 2016!

THE BRUTALIST PLAYGROUND - Exposition in London

Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play.  The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Turner Prize nominees Assemble and artist Simon Terrill, exploring post-war design for play.



Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery at RIBA, it encourages visitors to look at the materiality and visual language of now lost Brutalist landscapes in new ways through an immersive and conceptual landscape. Although the value of Brutalist residential buildings today is much debated, this exhibition shifts the focus to the equally important playgrounds found at the feet of these structures, offering a renewed understanding and critique of the architects’ original designs and intentions. 

10 June to16 Augurst 2015 

AT RIBA, 66 PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON
Free entry
Monday - Sunday 10am to 5pm and Tuesday 10am to 8pm

More information

SEI - Sociedade Escola Investigação

Last week was finally presented the works made by the students from the Soares dos Reis School of Arts in Porto in the context of an agreement between the Porto City Council and the Faculty of Architeture of the University of Porto (represented by me).
It was a good opportunity in order to work, one more time, on the architectural toys issue with young students from an excellent school of arts. The Soares dos Reis is an incredibly well equipped teaching institution where several very good professors are lecturing almost all the arts and art-crafts skills. So it was a pleasure to join a strong team for a new project like that.
This video was made by Nuno Beire (http://www.amatilha.com) in order to communicate the state of the project after some months because it will end later (I'll keep you update).

Anuária exposition at FAUP - Architectural Toys course

Every year the FAUP organize an exposition with some student's works of all the courses. This year we also organized some interviews (spoken in portuguese) with professors in order to better explain the exercises and the underlying theory.

Here the video about my course, Architectural Toys:
http://www.ctchannel.tv/video/226





Architectural Toys course at FAUP 2014/2015

One more edition of my course Architectural Toys at FAUP (faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto) is over. Also this year I had a lot of enrolled students and some very interesting works were produced, let me show you some of them.


Ana Filipa Dias work is based on the urban scale in a very simple and intuitive way: a black board (made by slat) with chalk and some wooden volumes. The child can sketch a city with streets, green areas or water and put on it some buildings in order to understand concepts like urban scale, density, street or block.

Ana Filipa Dias - The Poster
Ana Filipa Dias - The prototype



Bruna Nunes focused on a specific element: the small shelter Le cabanon by Le Corbusier.  It was built between 1951-1952 is where Le Corbusier preferred to spend summers in the months of August and September. The small building was designed based on the "Modulor" a system of measures directly related to the human scale, invented by Le Corbusier. The child can learn about measures, proportions and space playing with this model, a kind of doll house, that is openable in different ways in order to allow interact with it.

Bruna Nunes - The poster



The toy designed by Catarina Brites is based on a tridimensional optic effect. Indeed with plan surfaces child can create several different volumes, even buildings. It is very simple and cheap, can made by a printed sheet of paper, but with a strong visual effect. One of the most interesting aspect is that the child can make several mistakes and  through them create new and unsuspected shapes. So the mistake can really be part of the creative process. 

Catarina Brites - The poster
Catarina Brites - The prototype



Guilherme Oliveira designed a toy for space creation. It is based on a wooden board where the child can insert different walls and create interior and exterior space in a simple way. Changing the wall material, like transparent or not unique materials, the child can experience different spaces and relations.

Guilherme Oliveira - The prototype


Indira Nunes fell in love with the Charles and Ray Eames toy "THE TOY" and decided to create a new version. The result was quite interesting manly because she understood the real complexity of that toy and of the producing technologies involved.

Indira Nunes - The poster
Indira Nunes - The prototype


Joana Bicas worked on a stamps system. Based on Le Corbusier work she developed a kit with a book and stamps that the child can use in the proper way. So behind an aesthetic value based on a specific figure of the architecture, the use of this toy develops scale comprehension and  perspective understanding. Also in this toy the mistake can be a learning source because it can provides new and unexpected solutions.

Joana Bicas - The Poster
Joana Bicas - The prototype


Jolan Haidinger designed a wooden construction set with vivid colors and a specific shape. It is always a very stuff challenge because it is quite difficult to find a shape that should be at the same time simple and complex enough to allow the creation of several tridimensional figures.

Jolan Haidinger - The poster



Julien Ponsar made a structure that can be used in several ways and position in order to create different spaces where the child can move, interact or simply stay. The structure, made by steel or aluminum, can be combined with tissue or other materials and can be easily mounted in a garden or in a public space.

Julien Ponsar - The Poster
Julien Ponsar - The model



Also the work of Lise Kerdraon is for exterior use. Based on flexible sticks that are threaded in a tissue to create a tent that can assume several different configurations for different uses. The tissue can be elastic and tensioned between the sticks and has a very interesting shape determinated by the moutend elements.

Lise Kerdraon - the poster
Lise Kerdraon - The prototype


Robert Somod explored a technology based on wooden blocks and elastics connections to create a toy that can change it's own shape and create several figures. The technology was adapted to architecture to create an arc or other building elements, but can also be used for animals or other objects.


Robert Somod - The prototype
Robert Somod - The prototype


Finally (because the alphabetic order) I post the work of Sara Vila Cova. It is a construction set that use the small straws that come with the beverages. With a simple connection system the child can build wire-frame structures. Sara also developed a packaging idea for promote her toy that is quite simple: just put in each pack a small plastic bag with some connection and a short description. 


Sara Vila Cova - The prototype