Since 2007, Toy Product Design has been taught at MIT, with the goal of exciting students about how product designers and engineers can impact quality of life through design, specifically through the design of toys. The course had been taught out of a cramped temporary lab space where certain tools would routinely trip circuit breakers.
Flexible, organized, and playful. The client requested a space that could accommodate an expansive program and its associated equipment while retaining these core attributes. In the lower level of one of the university’s main buildings, a space was identified that spanned a high-traffic corridor for the new MIT Toy Lab.
A custom millwork solution provides storage, seating, and organizational cues, as well as a graphic identity and design language that unifies the Lab’s two areas. The modulated grid is used as both concealed storage and exhibition space, where the colorful steel framed 'boxes' on the front operate as display areas for the toys constructed and in progress
Bright floor graphics in durable rubber and acoustic ceiling treatments energize the space and create a comfortable working environment. Glass panel doors slide open at the corridor, allowing students to flow between the spaces and offering an opportunity to share the work with the larger community.
David Wallace, one of the professors leading the Toy Product Design course, sees the space from a point of innovation, “Basic principles about play are pretty time invariant, but the technology that one might see in toys is constantly changing, as are ways in which we might interact with toys—and our toolkit for designing toys/products changes over time.” The Toy Lab supports this mission of exploration with a design that can be pulled apart and reassembled each day, where the building blocks of inspiration, tools, and materials are close at hand.