By Smita Singh
Photography: courtesy the designer
Water Cycle, Planets, Food Pyramid, Short Vowels, Long Vowels, Monster Hugs... are not some random topics from a child’s book; these are names of sassy board games, flash cards and soft toys designed with a serious intent...
Suhasini Paul is a toy designer with a difference. A qualified electrical engineer, she is a much sought after designer by toy manufacturers in countries like China, Thailand, Italy, UK, USA and Germany. When she enrolled for a course in Toy Design and Development in the National Institute for Design, Ahmedabad, little did she know that the course was more about child psychology and less about actual designing.
So what does toy designing entail? It can mean anything from spending months in factories and in the jungles of bamboo and rubber in China and Thailand to comprehending safety standards, whilst designing infant products.
But the most crucial fact that needs to be kept in mind is that innocent toys encourage behavioural skills, improve learning skills and boost a child’s creativity and language ability.
The designer’s signature collection Monster Hugs, does just that; other than triggering the imagination, they prove to be antidotes for any night-time fears.
According to Suhasini, the toys closest to her heart have been board games; especially the Water Cycle, her first toy - a best-seller in fourteen countries! Commendably, she also has her name mentioned on her products.
So how does she go about designing such products? It involves first to understand the need; translate and present it and convince the manufacturers of its feasibility. All this creativity is spearheaded from a dream project- a design studio called Pink Elefant in Noida, NCR.
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Having designed for Fun Skool, Disney toys and Creative and Frank, and amassing accolades as ‘Designprenuer’ by the Government of Gujarat, a finalist at the Business World Design Excellence Award and a finalist at British Council Young Design Entrepreneur Award have been high points of a very imaginative design journey. But personally, Suhasini feels gratified when educators appreciate her products. The challenge, she says, is to age but not grow up.