Interior design students test educational toys with grade one class

Sometimes college can seem like all work and no play, but that’s not the case in Georgian’s Honours Bachelor of Interior Design (BAID) program. Second-year students recently got to channel their inner child for a fun project designing and testing educational toys with a grade one class.

A new approach to traditional design

Although students didn’t work with interior spaces, this project challenged them to approach the design process with a different lens, and for a much younger audience. After creating the toys, the BAID students enjoyed a day at Hillcrest Public School in Barrie, playing and learning with the children.

The toys were inspired by Discovery Toys, an educational toy company based in California. Inclusivity and diversity was the theme of each project, allowing the children to express creativity and be engaged while learning about important issues.

Students also shared their work with the Senior Product Manager at Discovery Toys who gave constructive feedback on their designs and presentations, and valuable insights about designing, manufacturing and selling a product to consumers.

Two people wearing black sweaters sitting at a table in a classroom with a set of wooden dolls in different colours (red, purple, yellow, green, blue and pink).
BAID students Vanessa Millian (left) and McKayla Mandziak (right) showing their wooden doll toys to the Hillcrest grade one students.

Students share their stories

We spoke with three second-year students from the BAID program, Sarah Chisholm, Tiela Gilmour and Vanessa Millian, to learn more about their experiences.

What was it like designing and testing your toy with the children?

Tiela: “It was fun to research about the psychological effects toys have on children and how they aid in their growth. Going through the design process was exciting because we had the opportunity to create a game that showed inclusivity and diversity in a learning form through play. When testing out our game with the kids, it was interesting to see how each group interacted with the game differently.”

Sarah: “Designing the toy was more difficult than I first thought as there aren’t a lot of toys out there that focus on diversity and inclusion to reference. I was nervous about testing our toy with the grade one students, but the response we got was so much better than I expected. They loved it which was very reassuring that the design was successful.”

People's hands gluing paper puzzle pieces together on a wooden desk.
Two children playing with a sensory bag filled with rice, and reading a book.

What was your biggest takeaway from presenting to an industry professional?

Vanessa: “The biggest takeaway from this client meeting was to be confident in the project that you’re presenting. You know your project the best, so it’s very important to sound knowledgeable about it and sell it to the client.”

Tiela: “It was extremely beneficial to talk with someone who is experienced in the field and has a background in the design process that goes into children’s games. It helped me gain a greater understanding of the professionalism in working with a client from start to finish. The feedback we received from the client on the design development phase will allow me to bring new ideas into my future designs.”

A box of grey stencils and colourful crayons to draw with.
Three people playing with various wooden doll toys that are different colours (red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green).

Why do you think this project was important to your overall learning in the interior design program?

Sarah: “Interior design and product design are, in a way, very similar. Looking at the design process in a slightly different way was refreshing and brought me out of my comfort zone. This project was also a good reminder of the impact our creations have on people and the world.”

Vanessa: “I think it’s essential for interior designers to know and understand the significance of incorporating diversity and inclusivity into spaces that address the needs of a wide range of people. I feel confident taking the lessons I learned during this project and implementing them in my future career as an interior designer.” 

A colourful drawn map of the world with stickers of different animals on it.
Three children playing with a blue globe with felt pieces stuck on it representing the different countries.

What do you love most about your program and experience at Georgian so far?

Tiela: “I love the opportunities Georgian offers in this program. My favourite part is how our class works as a team to ensure everyone makes it to the finish line together, united as one. The BAID program allows us to explore our creativity and truly express ourselves through design.”

Sarah: “Although the program is fast paced, the in-depth projects we create are incredible in developing our personal identity as interior designers and preparing us for a successful future career. I’m only in my second year and I’ve already had the chance to compete in many competitions and practice professional presentations.”

Interested in pursuing a future in interior design? Learn more about Georgian’s four-year Honours Bachelor of Interior Design Degree program.

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