Teaching at MIT – Toy Studio


I teach an Interactive Toy Design Studio to MIT grad and undergrad students.

Have a look at images of students’ work, at the course website.

This studio introduces students to fundamentals of interactive toy design and introduce basic design techniques and principles. Students build several toy prototypes in this class. We review related theory from the fields of design, fine art, education and cognitive science, and focus on fast ideation and implementation of ideas. Some readings related to design and learning are required, but the majority of the course is spent doing hands-on building. The course compresses a full semester into three weeks of intensive, daily design studios.

Topics Include

  • toys in modern art, and toys invented by modern artists. Alice Aycock, Alexander Calder, Dennis Oppenheim, Picasso, Paul Klee, Jean Tinguely, James Seawright, Michael Grey, Allan Kapprow, Cindy Sherman, Claes Oldenberg, Frank Gehery.
  • toys as educational tools: manipulatives. overview of constructivist theories of learning, piaget. froebel, montessori, building toys, digital manipulatives.
  • kinetic art, mechanical toys and automata. overview of mechanism design.
  • fantasy, storytelling, character and story. dolls, action figures, stage, performance.
  • toys made from trash, toys made from reappropriated materials, and toys invented by kids.
  • subversive toys. and dystopic visions of play and invention. movies: brazil, toy story, blade runner, etc.
  • toy manufacturing
  • large scale toys, jungle gyms, architecture for play and body-scale learning toys (a la exploratorium)
  • electronic toys, computers for play
  • toy marketing: what sells and why?
  • toy design process from concept -> the toy store shelf