An eminent toy designer, postgraduate from National Institute of Design (NID) with her specialization in Toys and Children products, Suhasini Paul is also an electrical engineer and has done Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs from IIM, Bangalore. Suhasini is the brain behind many sassy board games for kids produced by FRANK and several other popular Indian companies. She has designed several surprise toys for Kinder Joy and has also designed the mascot for an upcoming product to be launched by ITC. She was approached by the creators of the character Chota Bheem, to build the strategies for promotional toys and merchandise. She is the first toy designer in the country to have her name imprinted on the games designed by her for Indian and global clients. In 2015, SNAPDEAL collaborated with her as a Toy Expert. Her & Paul’s work have been honored by Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi (then CM of Gujarat) as a Designpreneur in 2005 and President of Taiwan Mr Ma Ying-jeou in 2010 amongst several other recognitions. She is a visiting faculty at NIFT as well as a TEDx Speaker.
What led to choose Toy Designing as a specialization.
As a child, I used to create my own toys and games. I remember making a personalized hexagonal carrom board to accommodate more than 5 other friends of mine.
My maternal grandmother taught me different stitching techniques, paper folding, chalk sculpting. My mom would give me all the raw materials from the junk and encourage creativity in my play time activities. My dad is a creative person himself and used to design a lot of stuff using jugaad in his free time like painting his vehicle at home or painting its number plate himself. I loved participating in such activities and had an inclination towards creative things. I found my calling while perusing B.E. in Electrical Engineering. I started a company called ‘Dreamz Decorations’ which entailed designing window displays and organising birthday parties for kids in free time apart from engineering studies. I always wanted to do something for children and then gradually discovered the lacuna in the toy industry.
During that period in 2002, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, started a new discipline – Toy Design and Development. Got enrolled in 2003 and did my post-graduation in Toy design.
What kind of process/research do you follow for toy design?
Design begins with observation and needs identification through in-depth research leading to analysis and conclusion on what has to be done. Whether its a board game, puzzle, toy, anything, it should be informative, educative and off course fun-filled. I am inspired by the behaviour and experiences of children — physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and cultural.
For instance, while designing the water cycle game, I interacted with teachers, parents and children. Observing children, I was amazed by how they perceive things and depict them through their drawings, I have used this tool as my user survey technique and asked about 25 -30 children of different age groups to draw a rainy day / season. I found my key elements in their drawings which served as my inspiration for my board game elements. Another instance is during ‘Space travel game’ designing, where I had extensively studied the text books of the age group of children who were my target audiences. Interestingly, I found that children are studying planet symbols as well which were not easy to remember by them, I incorporated those symbols in the form of tokens in my game which they could relate to the particular planet with the respective symbol token during the course of play, that too in a fun way.
Tell us about your experiences in the bamboo/ rubberwood factories. Have you experimented with these materials in your projects?
I have been to various client locations like Biggest Bamboo Forest in China and Rubberwood plantation in Thailand, to understand the material for making toys as well as to understand their work flow.
Spent several weeks there to understand how the material behaves and designed a bamboo doll house keeping in mind the material properties. Rubberwood is also one material which we have explored extensively. I have designed over 35 toys in the past 6 years for my client based in Thailand. These toys are being exported to Europe, Russia, Japan and US.
Apart from the material and their work style, what I have learnt is how to follow International Safety Standards and parameters to keep in mind while designing toys.
Elaborate a bit about your role as a Play Strategist?
With focus towards target users and using observation as a tool, I do in-depth task analysis. Genuine needs are seldom spoken. So, I dig out latent needs and desires and address them through our concepts and validate the concepts using quick models, prototypes, then refine and create final design specifications. Combining in-depth research, user understanding, and technology to create a customized design process which results in truly innovative and cost-effective designs for my clients with the understanding of material, process and optimized costing is my role. I always want to facilitate organizations and identify untapped potential. As a play strategist, I totally believe in completing the cycle of designing all the way from concepts to end product to packaging and catalogue. My project-specific research keeps me updated apart from teaching at various design institutes, interacting with kids, attending international fairs, design events, design awards etc.
Paul Sandip is an international award-winning product designer, alumni of the prestigious National Institute of Design (NID), Electrical Engineer and a Cartoonist who re-defines everyday objects. His designs are led by consumer focused innovation and refined sense of style. He has designed over 300+ iconic everyday objects in 121 product categories for clients across 14 countries. Multiple Red Dot Awardee, and numerous other International awards, his Design Thinking workshops/lectures are most sought after by business leaders. Paul’s work is held in permanent collections of Danish Design Museum. Since 2013, Paul is a Jury Member for the India Design Mark. He is also a registered industrial designer with the Government of India under the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Program. In 2004 he created the Spherical Bulb Holder & Angular Multi-plug for GM Modular which became the most iconic best seller designs in India and have now become a standard for the entire electrical industry. He was invited to showcase his works at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2018 and was also selected to represent Industrial Design at the India-Italy Tech Leadership Roundtable in the august presence of His Excellency Mr. Giuseppe Conte the Prime Minister of Italy and Shri Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of India.
What draws you to your projects?
A good design makes a close connection with users and exerts an influence on their lives. Aesthetics apart, it is embedded in our everyday lives to help us live efficiently,
safely and comfortably. If you look at a good designed product or enter a beautifully-designed space, you develop a good feeling towards it and soon have affection for it. I am interested in creating this chemistry between you and the objects you use every day.
In a world full of chaos, information overload, one is often preconditioned to think in a set pattern. How do you re-imagine everyday objects?
Why does your soap dish look the way it looks? And why do you hold a spoon the way you do? You probably wouldn’t have lost any sleep over these questions, not even when they didn’t work right.Everyday products, they are so numerous and ubiquitous. They form the material framework of our existence, enabling it to function, not only in practical or utilitarian terms, but also in ways that give pleasure, meaning and significance to our lives. But why don’t we notice them?
Most of us travel by the same route every day, do similar tasks every day, go to same places and although we are awake and seeing things around us we are not actually looking at them consciously. Hence, such products are frequently taken for granted. Design, to my understanding, is about having an eye for such details and bringing back life to mundane objects. I would like to emphasize on the act of “Observation” as a necessary tool to design useful products.
My designs are guided by user expectations, which are often felt but seldom spelt. Peeling down to the heart of the (sub) conscious human behaviour helps me reveal the magic of effortlessness with design, creating a comprehensible, delightful and character-full product. The market is flooded with a plethora of redesigned products but very few redefined objects. When one re-designs a product, one tends to retain the essence of it’s being - the soul. However, gives its body a complete new makeover without even hitting on the mind. When I re-define, as the word itself suggests, I work on the soul of the product, I question its very existence. Thus, giving the product a new mind and a fresh body.
A beautiful body is as important as a beautiful mind. An aesthetically balanced product drives the customer close to itself. “Form-material” relation is one of the demanding parameters of a good-looking product. It makes it desirable. Colour and finish adds the oomph factor! Mind is that aspect of the product, which interacts with the user/customer. Sometime it directs the user to handle the product in a particular way and sometime it doesn’t. Soul is the essence of its being, its purpose, satisfying the user’s wants/needs. It brings about the WOW! Factor. A good product is which is a perfect balance of BODY – MIND - SOUL.
You recently spoke about ‘Role of technology in design.’ Tell us a bit about that.
Yes, I am continuously exploring innovative ways on how Technology and Design can together create that perfect blend to aid improved everyday experiences for people across the country. Dell Technologies engaged me for promoting this very idea
through various “Design Thinking” platforms, both physical and virtual. Product design is a field that brings together art, business and engineering. Technology is an integral part of new product development. There are two ways, technology plays an important role in product design.
First, as a deterrent... Don’t be shocked! Most of the products we use are designed keeping the manufacturing constraints in mind. It’s a devil in disguise. The biggest challenge for a product designer is to achieve his/her elusive vision of that design detail that can make or break the aesthetic or functional feature one wants to highlight in that product. So, if we make design decisions which are complex to manufacture or increase production time or reduce manpower efficiency, the cost of the product will shoot up.
In the recent times, 3D printing has been one such technology which had made it much easier to convert dreams into reality without traditional manufacturing/tooling constraints. It allows us to create mock-ups to test the product features with prospective users, even before the object comes into production without investing into real time tooling which otherwise is very expensive. 3D printing is used in both rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
Objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and typically are produced using digital model data from a 3D model. There are many different technologies, used in the 3D printing process. The most common by number of users being fused deposit modeling (FDM). Thus, unlike material removed from a stock in the conventional machining process, 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer.
However, this new technology is completely computer driven, hence future designers have to champion the related softwares to be able to create 3D printed design.
You and Suhasini live out of Noida and Pune. What was the whole idea behind living out of two cities?
We have been experimenting with our service model and how best we can operate seamlessly and productively has been our topmost agenda. With technology at our finger tips, we can literally work from anywhere under the sky. We have a strong network of related domain service providers such as material suppliers, toolmakers, manufacturers spread all across the globe. We choose the right fit as per the project requirement. So that it gives us complete freedom to not be stationed at one location.
During the winters we would work out of Kolkata or Goa and spend the spring time in Noida. Few months back we drove down from Noida to set up our new workspace in Pune. This city also offers very productive climatic condition as well as has a thriving creative industry. Product design innovation requires extreme creativity and creativity is a state of mind. Hence, for the past couple of years we have been travelling to various cities with the best climatic conditions and setting up our temporary work spaces. Our creativity has increased multi-folds and our clients have been benefited from it. What more do we want? We like to live and work with no strings attached!
How has been your experience working closely with the government agencies, how is the response and what could help this sector more?
Yes, I am an empanelled designer with the Government of India under the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Program. Have been engaged in providing design and innovation services to several MSME’s enlisted with GOI through the Design Clinic Scheme. Definitely GOI is giving a lot of impetus to the manufacturing sector by strengthening Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime and creating pride factor through mission “Make in India”. Recently we were invited by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to brainstorm on the Road Map & Conceptual Framework for setting up of ‘West Bengal State Design Centre’, Kolkata”. Such active involvement of design thinkers and practitioners in policy making with definitely help improve our quality of life. All in all, great experience so far.
Some designs by Paul & Suhasini
Ozone is an innovative wireless door bell cum bluetooth speaker with a unique shape that makes it an ideal table top accessory!
SPOO is an attempt to re-think the ergonomics of a feeding spoon. Peeling down to the heart of the (sub) conscious human behavior helped me reveal the magic of effortlessness with design, creating a comprehensible, delightful and character-full product.
SPOO is perfect for both left and right-handed mothers, and it’s ergonomically twisted grip keeps wrists from turning. The soft tip ensures that it is safe for tender gums of the 3+ month olds. It is an innovation for modern parents!
Amour 4.0 is a mobile assisted smart switching solution for your homes, offices and commercial places. It is crafted with a feather touch screen with icons which are self explanatory, making it easier to use by all age groups. It also has a color TFT display for timing, scheduling, mode selection and connection status and dual micro USB port.
It works with and without internet. While on internet mode, it gives a plethora of unique features like multi-scheduling, locking, power metering and SOS features. App is available on both android and iOS. This can also be controlled by any voice command.
Amour 4.0 has been engineered by EBTL Pvt. Ltd. and designed by Paul Sandip.
MUI is a step-stool suitable for both children and adults who hate to grow! Its top surface offers better grip to our feet while you reach out for the top shelf.
GO is Fountain pen designed for kids! The idea was to create a playful and dymanic look so that kids could flaunt it.
Close obesrvation of the usage pattern of writing instruments by kids revealed that the clip was irrelevant. Hence, GO has a cap without a clip which also makes it look unlike any regular fountain pen and thus catches our attention!
Asterix is a multi-axis charging adaptor with 180° rotatable sockets for ease of cable management.
The challenge was to create a decorative ceiling fan which had a striking aesthetic gap from the plethora of designer fans already available in the Indian market at very affordable price. We initiated home visits to study the living room interiors and noticed that handicrafts find a special place in most Indian homes. We found our inspiration in ‘Dokra’, a very popular craft from Madhya Pradesh (central province of India).
The intricate details of ‘Dokra’, were translated into contemporary motifs and forms to bring home a well crafted ceiling fan at a most competitive price. “India Glory Ceiling Fan” adds an artistic flair and craftsmanship to your room interiors. Champagne Gold rim deco along with well crafted blade deco’s add richness to the look of the fan in white. Also available in silver and brown color. Apart from designing the stylish exteriors we have also been engaged for creating 1:1 scale aesthetic mock-up for evaluation by marketing team, precision engineering to assist R&D in product development and co-ordination with toolmakers till production.
Volcano is a levitating bluetooth speaker that looks incredibly stunning, produces great audio performance and is sure to turn on your party experience!
Paul Studio was approached by Bluebird Pure Pvt. Ltd. to design a domestic RO Water Purifier which would have up to 8 stages of purification and features like RO+UV+UF+Alkarich Technology.
The endeavor was to create an iconic look which would clearly cut the clutter of retail space and find mind-space of the consumers. After several rounds of iteration with the internal component layouts we finalized on the most compact “form factor” and developed a few physical samples to check the stability and ease of serviceability. The focal point of the
product is the faceted surface on the front fascia which reflects the ambient light to create a dynamic visual effect.
Co-designer: Suhasini Paul
Tic-tac-Toe - Memory Flip Game
It’s a tow in one game, which has tic tac toe on one side and illustrations in pairs on other side. Place all the cards upside down and then try and find the matching ones. It will help improve kid’s memory.
Neo is an internet Connected smart toy which tells stories, poems to children. It downloads stories from the app that parents have read or selected for their child. one can also share their stories with kids by recording, even when they are far away.
Kids bond emotionally with Neo as they chatter in a kid-friendly real human voice with different moods. This toy is designed for children (age 2-6 years), as a companion mobile app for parents, lots of stories waiting to be told.
Monster Hugs Collection
“This project is very close to my heart and has received huge appreciation from parents and children. Having conceptualised, designed and getting them manufactured was a great satisfaction.
Monster hugs was sold in Retail shops and on online portals like Snapdeal, Flipkart, Craftsvilla etc. It also won numerous design awards and got exhibited at Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt, Triennale design museum in Italy & Alliance Francis in New Delhi.” - Suhasini
Eco Hive Doll House
Unique and iconic doll house structure inspired from honey combs built by Bees.
The Eco Hive is designed to foster the children’s environmental awareness and promotes an environmentally friendly approach and to help children learn how to live in harmony with nature. It enhances children’s observable behaviors towards nature.
It’s the first ever wall mountable Doll House which can be cascaded and packed.
It complies with all the EN71 (European) safety standards and the Green Dot which is the license symbol of a European network of industry-funded systems for recycling the packaging materials of consumer goods.