March 22, 2008

Students Design HaPe Bamboo Toys During 3-Hour Tour, A 3-Hour Tour


Last year, the CEO of Swiss toy company HaPe invited a group of Israeli design students to participate in a Bamboo Design Workshop. For a couple of weeks, the students and their professors lived, ate, and slept [with] bamboo in the Chinese region of Anji, home of the "Bamboo Ocean," or as we call it here, "the Bamboo Fight Scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Along with studying the material and production process and toy safety [a fun topic to discuss in China in Summer '07, I'm sure], they tested out their designs on the local kindergarten population, and then exhibited them back in Israel. Now the whole thing's on Designboom, and though most of the toys are just a coconut shell away from being a prop at Mary Ann & Gilligan's baby shower, there are a few that exude awesomeness while being honest about their bambooey origins:

My hands-down favorite is Yehonatan Tishler's bamboo dump truck [top], which is part of a larger sandbox play set. It's got the flexible simplicity of the best, old school maple toys from the likes of Community Playthings and Creative Playthings. If it has the rugged indestructibility despite those skinny-looking dowels, then it's practically done.

Up until now, the Like-A-Bike knockoffs coming out of China have been made of plywood. Omri Bar Zeev's bamboo walkbike shows real potential, though, for actual innovation. On the right, Gili Keinan's little figures are called dominoes, but I could see putting an elastic on the back and making little finger puppets out of them, too.


Michal Zohar's bamboo play metropolis is awesome, and that arched bridge reminds me of the sweet curved ply building Creative Playthings used to make, but it looks a little prescriptive to me. I worry a kid won't have as much fun playing with it as Zohar had making it.


The rest of the photos are well worth a visit, too; there are interesting things built from Etay Amir's Tinker Toy-ish bamboo construction set, and Nir Siegel's curl-up turtle actually manages to make bamboo cuddly, though the concept would probably be better as an armadillo or a potato bug.

The only real downer is going to HaPe's site and seeing nothing but nice but very conventional toys. Supposedly, they've been on a bamboo kick since at least 2004, but this is the first time they have anything interesting to show for it. One mile down, 999 to go, I guess.

Shenkar College Bamboo Toy Design Workshop in China [designboom]
HaPe International []


Actually, we bought a few bamboo toys from them last year- the box has the same story about getting designers together in China to come up with ideas and test them out. We have this little bamboo panda game, and I think they also had some kind of bamboo blocks.

Hape does have a rather large range of bamboo toys already--they put all of their bamboo designs under the division:

; )

[I guess we have different conceptions of "rather large" -ed.]

it's great. u cand send me much, can't u? i'm researching about bamboo..@.@!!!!

i love bamboo so much.

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