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Designing toys: TU Delft professor visits International School Delft

MYP 3 (grade 8) students at the International School Delft welcomed Professor Mathieu Gielen from the Technical University Delft (TU Delft) in their Design lesson to find out more about the process of designing for children’s play. This Design Unit, MYP 3 students are working on designing a toy for refugees and thus were eager to get more insights into the design process when designing for children.

By Miros da Silva Ordaz – MYP Design teacher and TU Delft liaison at International School Delft

Guest lecturer, Prof. Mathieu Gielen, works at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft and is specialized in Design for children’s play. He came to share some of his design knowledge and to answer some of the questions the students had about designing toys for refugees.

The main questions of the students were:

  1. When did you start making toys?
  2. What is the most successful toy you’ve ever made?
  3. Do you have sketching tips?
  4. How do you know that the children will like the toy?
  5. What are the most common materials for your design?
  6. How do you attach different pieces to the designs?
  7. What is the best value of a toy for children 5 to 9 years old?
  8. What are the fundamental problems to making toys?
  9. What type of toys have you made so far?

Open ended interpretations of the design

Prof. Mathieu Gielen described that the main features of his work as researcher and toy designer focus on ambiguity and simplicity. These characteristics give the opportunity to create other purposes for the same toys or games.
He further explained that prioritising these two elements provides the opportunity to open ended interpretations of the design and to create other purposes for the same toys or games. Putting together different materials and textures gives more opportunity for creative thinking while having a design with lots of possibilities and not one answer.

Body, mind and soul

Mathieu summarized that the creative process of each design should also consider things like the production, durability and resistance of the material, but most importantly the body, mind, soul and joy that the design could possibly bring to the end user.

Two students from MYP 3A shared their design concept and sketches of their design of the toy for refugees. Mathieu gave the students some insightful feedback and suggestions on how they can improve their sketch to solve their design problem. 

Joint projects

We appreciate the inspiring lecture that Mathieu gave to our students and look forward to future collaborations. International School Delft regularly works together with TU Delft to share knowledge or to work on joint projects.

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