Fourth-year ID student Kelly Harrigan's magnetic and modular Ferra, above, was the winning design in Swiss toy manufacturer Naef Spielzeug's first-ever international toy competition. The criteria for entry was rather broad: Design a toy primarily made from wood, for ages "3 to 99."
"I wanted to design a toy that makes you want to experiment and learn about the capabilities of magnetism," said Harrigan of the modular toy. "The curvy modular design allows for smooth movement between pieces and the opportunity to create several configurations, and it feels good in your palm."
Ferra began as an industrial design program class assignment to develop a creative product capable of commercialization. "The pursuit of intellectual property has been one important layer to our curriculum," said Mitzi Vernon, associate professor of industrial design. The program pushes students to look past the design phase of their projects. "We try to encourage the continuation of the work through working prototypes and competitions, which can accelerate patents, commercialization, and licensing," said Vernon.
As a reminder that toy designs often take a long time to reach market, Naef's competition was held last year; the toy is still not yet on store shelves, though it is available to be licensed for development.