Isabel is a young product designer and illustrator currently based in Milan. Specialized in design for kids, she likes creating products with simple, clean lines but endless possibilities of use. In her work, fun meets simplicity.
Imagination and creation is key to learning and development. Isabel will explain us she wants to create toys that help kids to let their imagination fly, products that inspire them curiosity allowing free and open-ended play. And we love the result.
When we saw her toy ‘Totem’, a plaything for kids with visual disability, we instantly fell in love with the concept and design of the product, and we wanted to know more about her designs. Hope you love her creations as much as we do.
Isabel, which is your background? How did you become a product designer?
Since I was a child I liked to feel like an inventor so I used to make my own toys and create anything that came into my mind using all kind of materials and tools that I found at home. This is how I discovered that what I really wanted to do was create, express and give life to my ideas. I studied the Degree in Industrial Design Engineering and Product Development in Valencia and once finished my studies I moved to Milan to get specialized in Design for Kids and Toys.
You design products both for kids and adults. Is it very different? How did you become interested in kid’s design?
My works both for kids and adults are characterized by a clear and direct approach. I am very interested in the design that creates a link between the natural and the artificial, so I try to design products that approach and connect people with their around and nature, using new technologies and materials, creating in this way new and playful interactions and environments.
Design is important for everybody, but especially for kids, due to during the childhood kids learn the main values and develop themselves as individuals, so design involves a special care to achieve an optimal education experience.
I have always been very interested in kid’s design. Toys support kid’s development and through them children can learn, explore, discover, interact… I like to inspire curiosity among the future generation and help them to let their imagination fly, allowing kids to get a mentality more elastic and less blocked being capable of making decisions and free themselves!
We want to know more about ‘Totem’. This is a really interesting project for kids with visual disability. How did you come up with the idea? What kind of research methods did you use?
I wanted to design a special toy that could satisfy kids with less accessible toys available in the market due to endure any kind of disability. That’s why I started to investigate and analyze the toy market and researches about kids with disabilities until I realize that children with hearing impairment can access to the most toys, followed by those with motor disabilities. Therefore, blind or visually impaired children are those with less accessible toys so I got in touch with an educator of the Spanish blind association to know more about the needs and how is characterized the game in kids with visual disability.
After that, I also considered the toy’s accessibility for blind kids according to the type of toys and by age, what is needed to stimulate the game in kids with visual disability, the importance of the development of new skills and the sense to perceive the reality around them and how blind and visually impaired children socialized with other kids.
Totem consists of 12 pieces of basswood combining different craft processes to make easier the recognition by the senses; 4 pieces of smell, 4 of touch and 4 of audio. Audio and smell pieces can be customized by an adult, thanks to the plug located at the bottom of the piece. Totem allows a large number of games, which are adapted to the age and individual development of each child; construction sets, identify, distinguish and match identical pieces, imitation games (towers, series, Simon says…), gambling, memory and many more.
‘Petit du cheval’ is another of your products, an elegant and multifunctional children’s bentwood chair (first image of the post). Do you always consider the playful aspect when you design for kids?
I consider that play is very important in kid’s development, play is learning, while playing kids have their minds are open to learn in new and fun ways; even if children don’t know that they’re doing it. In other words, play makes learning something that happens naturally and joyfully, when a child laughs and wonders, explores and imagines. Furthermore, in play kids develop a lasting disposition to learn.
That’s why I like to design having in mind the playful aspect, allowing kids to develop new skills and learn new things while playing and interacting with everyday products like a chair.
Another project is ‘Catch-us’, a toy based on the idea of strategy and balance. Kids could use it in many different ways. How did the idea of your product emerge?
Catch-us is a toy designed for a university project. My classmate and I got realized that we both liked construction toys when we were kids, so having in mind this and the main briefing of developing kid’s marksmanship we started the toy’s design process.
We also considered including a new construction shape, a cactus, to allow a lot of structure possibilities and create endless buildings and ways to play. At the time we got the final toy, we realized that we had not only developed a construction and coordination toy, instead, Catch-us turned also into a strategy and balance toy with a lot of opportunities of play, stimulating kid’s creativity and eye-hand coordination.
What are your future plans?
In the future, I would really like to be able to work developing toys and doing something special for children. I would like to design free-screen toys allowing free and open-ended play to kids, using technology to enhance children’s natural development.
Thank you, Isabel! It has been a pleasure talking with you about your designs. If you want to discover more about Isabel Fuster, be sure to check out its website.