Thomas Mackisack 6 Aqua Stack
Tauira / StudentThomas Mackisack
Kaiako / LecturersEmma Fox, Rodney Adank
SchoolCollege of Creative Arts, Massey University
Combining traditional building block creativity with water play, Aqua Stack won the admiration of judges who enjoyed its robust, colourful forms and thoughtful integration of sustainable design values. This endlessly engaging toy suits a variety of settings and offers plenty of scope for children’s creativity and self-expression.
Aqua Stack is a children’s toy that combines the traditional block building toy with water play. It offers endless potential for all little builders through a multi-functional design that grows with the child in scale and complexity.
The project brief was to redesign a retro or classic children’s toy following the ideological and ecological approach of Wishbone Design Studio, a company involved with the brief. Reflecting on my childhood, I realised my favourite toy wasn’t a ‘toy’ by definition. Me, my sandpit, hose and hands, were my choice of toy. I would spend hours trying to create intricate tunnels, fascinated by the way water flowed down the paths I laid, only to eventually flood the pit and subsequently, my mothers neighbouring garden. I chose to redesign this “retro toy”, embedding key elements from my childhood experience, so it could be loved by other children today.
The result was Aqua Stack; with endless potential for all little builders, the various block sizes can start upside down and stacked without water, forming an understanding of building. When ready, they can flip them over and stack them high, creating beautiful little water falls. Aqua Stack teaches simple physics principles around water pressure and gravity. Through slides, unstructured play can be expanded, and the mounting system enables accessorises like dam walls, sieves and water wheels. Additionally, the dishwasher friendly design makes it easy for parents to clean.
Unique in its combination of block building and water play, Aqua Stack is designed to grow with the child in scale and complexity. This creates a toy that is not limited by age and stage, but imagination. Developing a long-lasting toy that serves the growth of the child was something incredibly important given the material choice. Dictated by water, I explored plastics and the potential of recycled material. I propose this toy would be injection moulded using Ocean Waste Plastic; creating a story of how a toy made from waste floating in the ocean, can have another life in better waters.
Research found children’s toys that served a long-life were a result of providing high value to the child and parents. The core values were durability: standing up to the crashes and bashes, and expression: the ability to provide creative freedom. Aqua Stack embeds these values, nurturing an outlet for creative expression limited only by the children’s imagination, and supported by a durable design and material choice. As a water toy, it was crucial to address issues of sustainability around water use and our oceans pollution. For the child, the toy is designed to re-use the same water using the ‘catcher’, forming an understanding of finite water use in a fun and creative way. For the parents, the design is proposed to be manufactured using Ocean Waste Plastic, removing waste from polluting our oceans, to create sustainable toys with play value beyond its’ first little owner.