Posted Wednesday 18 May 2022
Kingston School of Art is set to launch the first toy invention programme hosted at a United Kingdom university in partnership with international toy manufacturer Spin Master. Playful making and critical thinking will form the core components of the new course seeking to uncover the next generation of toy designers.
The fist students on the year-long course will begin work on their inventions this September, focusing on inspiring ideas, end-user interaction, hands-on prototyping and critical consideration of the roles of both play and the toy industry.
The partnership with Spin Master will give them a detailed insight into the day-to-day business of play, from coming up with ideas to pitching, branding and marketing, while its base in the creative community at Kingston School of Art will offer different perspectives from a broad range of disciplines and approaches.
First taught in Israel at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art at the Department of Continuing Education, the programme has since expanded to include Ryerson University in Canada and Doshisha University in Japan. The course is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and only the second in Europe.
Kingston School of Art's Head of Foundation Studies and Short Courses, Rebecca Davies, said its spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship provided the perfect platform to host the programme. "We will be drawing on the rich resource of inventors, designers, innovators, makers, tinkerers and dreamers we have at Kingston School of Art," she said. "We intend to experiment with the toolkit for future toy inventors and empower our students to think playfully and innovatively about toy creation."
With only 12 places available on the part-time course, organisers are looking to assemble a cohort of toy inventors with a wide array of talents. Davies said the application process would pose some thought-provoking questions to potential students. "We are looking for students who think creatively, imaginatively and independently. We might ask applicants what they'd carry in their inventor's overalls, what fills their pockets – be that practical, conceptual or fantastical. We're looking forward to seeing what their collective minds come up with and all the new toys, games and activities created as part of this process."
Through inventing and designing toys, students would explore a range of creative dialogues and relationships, programme lead Kieran O'Connor said. "We'll build in collaboration and teamwork throughout, welcoming students from across and beyond design, education, care and other spaces related to toys, play, children and inventiveness of any flavour. We'll also spend time with the true subject matter experts – children – through conversations and co-making with a local primary school community. We aim to help students reflect on why they are creating toys and the different impacts this can have."
Spin Master's senior vice-president of global advanced concepts Amy Pruzansky praised the partnership's potential. "The toy invention programme at Kingston University is uniquely tailored to this thriving market, leveraging our incredible relationships with a robust inventor network that offers tremendous value to the course for students," she said.