London-based designer Torsten Sherwood is at it again with his latest work, NOOOK.
NOOOk are cardboard discs with a hinge in the middle that can be used as building blocks to create fluid constructions.
When he told us about his clever design, we were keen to find out more.
How did you come up with this idea?
“I set myself the brief to design a new construction toy, but one that’s built at a larger scale for making dens and forts, basically mini architecture.“The architectural designer in me a saw deeper side to this otherwise playful brief — ‘what if LEGO wasn’t a brick?’
“While I have a huge amount of admiration for LEGO’s simple and ultra efficient system, building a real building out of LEGO is kind of difficult. Larger bricks are just not that suited to play.
“What it required was a completely new typology, that kept the inherent efficiency in the LEGO system but worked in a completely different way.
“My solution was simple cardboard discs with a hinge in the middle. Instead of tessellating like LEGO they overlap, which means that construction is not dictated by a specific geometry but far more fluid; A really useful property in a construction toy where you want building to be easy, free and open-ended.”
Tell us more about how the discs work.
“The discs can create edges (by aligning the hinge) or flats (by offsetting them) and with this simple combination an almost limitless array of faceted forms can be made at an ‘architectural scale’.”
Why did you choose to make the discs out of cardboard?
“After testing a variety of materials, I chose cardboard for structural reasons. It’s incredibly strong for its weigh, an important property when building large structures, but despite its seemingly disposable nature a durable heavy duty cardboard is a perfect fit for a children’s toy.
“The anecdote that children often play more with the cardboard box the toy comes in than the toy itself caused me to wonder what made the box so useful for play and why wouldn’t a designer try to mimic these properties?
“It occurs to me that it is exactly because the box is ‘throw away’ that it is so valuable for play, children can truly play freely without worrying about breaking anything.
“Of course the toy needs to be sufficiently durable and the cross laminated heavy duty cardboard I use demonstrates this but it also has the qualities that it could be very low cost and environmentally friendly, creating a product with an appropriate life span for a children’s toy.
“The result is a design that isn’t precious, but is very considered and I believe this is incredibly appropriate for children.”
How did this opportunity with Design Museum London come about?
“While exhibiting my furniture at the Salone Satellite in Milan [for Milan Design Week], the Design Museum appointed me one of four Designer in Residence. We were each commissioned to produce new work that will be exhibited in the museum between September 2014 and March 2015.”
At the moment your design is on exhibition, what hopes do you have for NOOOK?
“For the moment the initial application for this idea is as a children’s toy and I wish to develop this into a commercial product.
“The idea also has application as a partitioning system a bit like a structural version of the Kvadrat Clouds but could have proper architectural application if developed further.”
We can see Torsten’s NOOOK being a huge hit with the kids and wish him all the success in making this a commercial product!
To see more of Torsten’s work, check out our Top 4 Chairs from Milan Design Week story where his Homage chair was featured.