Designer Toys: Not Just for Fun

DC munny design

As we’re starting a new term today, it’s usually the time to look for ways to kick start our creative batteries. Often, stepping away from the computer is a first step, and I am a huge fan of do-it-yourself products like Kidrobot’s Munny and MUNNYWORLD vinyl figures. They allow for creative expression that is completely independent of the reliance on plugins or digital filters. These vinyl figures also look great for decorating workspaces that designers spend so much time at.

This is a vinyl figure I recently customized. In terms of process, I normally start with a list of key ideas to help me focus on what type of character I’m designing such as cute, grotesque, robotic, etc. Following an image search to create an inspiration folder and a visit to an art gallery or book store, I’ll sketch ideas out using a template of the silhouette of the blank vinyl figure. After a few pages of thumbnail sketches, I will proceed with the actual application. Even though it is nerve-wracking, I enjoy the challenge of drawing directly with pigment liners pens without using pencil guides. It is difficult, but I try not to worry about making mistakes.

DC munny design

DC munny design

DC munny design

DC munny designs

I’ve stuck with using black ink for my previous vinyl figures. I do have plans for using colour for a future customized figure. This is a digital painting of a possible concept. The fried egg eyes were meant to evoke a character with an optimistic view of life. I’ve added a bacon tie and some cutlery details to complete the breakfast theme.

DC_formal-breakfast_digital_painting

Designer toys are a fusion of pop art, fashion and urban style. Graffiti artists, designers, illustrators, musicians and DJs have all taken their turns to customize vinyl toys in various parts of the world. They are transitioning from being known by a small group of artists and collectors to a larger audience as evidenced by Samsung’s recent collaboration with Kidrobot announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) hosted in Las Vegas earlier this year. The two companies will release a series of customized mobile device cases and a new platform toy. Another indicator of the growing cultural influence of designer toys is the current ‘This Is Not A Toy’ show in Toronto’s Design Exchange. Grammy Award-winning musician/entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has co-curated an exhibition to showcase designer toys in a museum setting. New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) also has the Munny and a selection of Kidrobot toys in its permanent design collection.

We’re entering an important stage of the academic year with graduate projects being conceived and submitted this term by different groups of students. Stay inspired and have a great term!

 

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