What is your name and job title?
Sue Gascoyne, Creative Director, Play to Z Ltd
What did you love to play with the most, as a child?
I loved cuddly toys and used to line them up along my bed so that there was barely room for me to get in and pretend that we were on a boat and had to be careful not to fall into the shark infested sea! When I was a bit older I had a lovely record player in a red vinyl covered box. I loved the smell of the turntable and listening to Ernie the Milkman and Boogie Wonderland!
What do you love most about the world of children’s toys?
It is such a diverse sector with high tech and licensed brands competing alongside traditional favourites that have stood the test of time. As a designer I love the creative freedom of translating an idea into reality, then seeing children captivated by and enjoying playing with something that you’ve created. The buzz for me is even greater as I know how many people benefit from our ethical toys. From the adults in the centres with physical and learning disabilities that make the resources and get to express their creativity to the children that thrive from playing with our toys.
Why would children love to play with this toy?
This beautifully crafted set provides challenge and excitement for babies and young children. The eight satisfyingly chunky wooden pieces are perfect for what young children love best, exploring, building, sorting, moving and fitting together in a variety of ways. Its’ simple yet deceptively sophisticated design, ensures sensory interest, challenge, surprise and problem solving potential. The lovingly shaped pieces will fascinate, challenge and delight as 0 to 2 year olds discover which shapes fit where and how many different ways they can use the set. Infants love to explore shape, properties and mathematical concepts and the design provides the cues needed to ensure satisfaction and success. Once mastered as a puzzle Baby Curve continues to provide excitement and challenge as the pieces can be used in a variety of ways to encourage innovation and creativity.
Why is it so great for this age group?
With so many infant toys designed with unnecessary and age inappropriate extras, (often more for the benefit of adults than the child), Baby Curve is different. Based on extensive research and designed by author and sensory play expert Sue Gascoyne, every hand crafted element of this British-made resource has been carefully conceived. For 0 to 2 year olds a key priority is supporting their personal, social and emotional wellbeing; physical development; and communication. The satisfyingly chunky pieces of Baby Curve are designed to fascinate and challenge infants. Inviting exploration, this gives plenty of incentive for practicing an array of fine and gross motor skills and developing hand-eye coordination. As children manipulate and explore, sort and build they will discover the language of: same and different; big and little; in and out; up and down; heavy and light; number and shape. This lays the foundations for communication, giving meaning to words. A fun way to help babies and young children explore shapes and mathematical concepts Baby Curve is great for supporting early cognitive development. Baby Curve gives babies and young children the space and opportunity to explore their senses, test ideas and problem solve. As well as helping develop focus and concentration, children will delight in discoveries about how the pieces fit together and what they can do, all pre-requisites for personal, social and emotional development.
Why did you enter this toy into the Junior Design Awards?
The Junior Design Awards celebrates quality, design and functionality and these same qualities lie at the heart of Baby Curve. This beautifully designed toy is packed with play and learning potential offering timeless appeal. What really sets it apart are its enviable ethical and environmental credentials. Exquisitely crafted by adults with learning difficulties and disabilities in the UK and expertly designed, Baby Curve shows what can be achieved without compromising on play potential. Stylish and built to last from sustainable wood, this exceptional toy offers endless opportunities for essential early sensory stimulation. Much more than just a toy, Baby Curve’s team of makers deserve recognition for triumphing in quality, design and function.
What do you predict for the future of children’s toys? (Innovations etc.)
I predict three key trends:
- A proliferation of ever smarter, more realistic, physical and sensorial technology-based toys and games experiences.
- A blurring of the boundaries between ICT and mainstream toys, like dolls and soft toys, with technology used to update and enhance toys making them more life-like.
- A move towards quality-made traditional, natural and retro toys, to provide hands-on play experiences and an essential sensory education for children.