Rustic coconut trees, their slim, naked branches and rustling leaves in sway, the starburst flickering of the too-hot sun seen through squinty eyes and the waves of the blue-green water with its foamy edges creeping up the shoreline. Also, beads of bleached sand plastered underfoot, on the foot, on the forehead and everywhere possible…living on an island, these are constant scenes. I remember my mother hauling all five of us onto the bus—none air-conditioned and to feel the wind in our faces, we had to lift up the heavy window panel and snap it to lock in place manually—to the quiet corner of the island that is Sembawang Beach where we spent the morning running from sand to water and back again manifold times, our clothes sticking to our bodies wet with seawater, and the salty smell of the air plastered onto our tongues—and in our minds—while we made sand buildings with mandatory moats and coaxed the water to fill our miniature waterways. Later when I was older, beach memories comprised of solo runs by the beach on clement evenings and washing off the stubborn sand off the sails of our boats.
These memories come to me when I think about Outofstock’s new Animo toys for Biobu. It is made from bamboo fibre that is combined with 100 per cent food-grade melamine binder free of BPA, Phtalates, PVC, Cadmium and Mercury free, making the products last longer. Biobu is a subsidiary brand of Ekobo from Spain. It was co-created in 2003 by Boo Weber Louis, who is also its creative director and whose children are seen in the photos testing the products and looking like they are having a lot of fun while at it.
According to Outofstock, made up of Wendy Chua and Gabriel Tan from Singapore, Gustavo Maggio from Argentina and Sebastián Alberdi from Spain, the Animo series “act as molds that borrow their forms from ocean creatures, igniting children’s imagination of a world of life under the sea.” We’re fans of the design studio’s work, comprising the interior design of the Plain Vanilla cafe and cupcakery at Tiong Bahru and sophisticated yet playful furniture for Foundry and Ligne Roset.
Wendy shares with us some ideas about the ideas behind the design of the Animo series:
What was your response to the brief given to you by Biobu? Did the studio go down to the beach one day with sand toys in the name of research?
Of course! Although we do not have children of our own, we observed how families interact along the beautiful beaches of Barcelona and also conducted a few ‘play-tests’ with Boo’s children in their home in Barcelona. The prototypes went through a few rounds of editing and reshaping to achieve the right ergonomics, weight and interactive play with children. When the final production pieces arrive in Singapore, we brought them to Sugi Island (in the name of product testing) to enjoy some sun-drenched days at the sandy beach, attracting children, the neighborhood kittens and tiny crabs.
Please describe each character of the Animo series.
Ray – our favourite shovel that is most diligent in scooping all the sand you need to mold shapes and dig troughs.
Moby – the scooper is always hungry for some sand to mold undulating whale forms in the sand, awaiting little bits of nature to add that sparkle to their eyes.
Turtle – Slow and easy, the sifter allows sand to flow like a waterfall to create soft trails or little mountains.
Peli – Mr. Pelican has a great appetite for water, tiny fishes and seaweed.
Did you tap into your own memories of playing in designing the Animo series?
Surrounded by nature and with the right tool to activate our senses for discovery, one can feel like a child and finds oneself completely lost in play and the haptic experience of sand, waves and the sun.
How important is the concept of play for the Outofstock studio?
Play can be defined in many ways. From the perspective of a studio, play describes the process more than the result. It is a constant reminder that we should value the joy and wonderment of the design process over the pride and perfectionism that one tends fixate upon for the result.
+ images courtesy of Outofstock