Modern Playthings Inspired by Children’s Art

Turn your child's drawing into a toy! Pictured - "Woody" by Gregory, age 5

What can I say? One look at “Woody” and I’m convinced kids are the world’s best designers! Imagined and drawn by Gregory, age 5, and then magically brought to life by Zut Création Textile in France, Woody is quirky, fun, and quite wonderful.

Children’s artwork is a continuous source of inspiration for creatives across the globe. How can we best encourage our kids to draw, paint, or color? How can we give them the freedom and confidence to experiment and express themselves? A group of promising young designers set out to tackle this issue, and here are a few of the clever ideas they came up with…

BOYA - crayons designed for freedom of movement

BOYA Crayons
available for $15 from ku ku tre

Named after the Croatian word for color, Maja Mesić’s award-winning (RedDot 2008) Boya Crayons finally went into production last year. The Croatian designer is particularly interested in ergonomics and function, and just by looking at the photos, it’s easy to see how much kids would enjoy experimenting with these tear-shaped crayons. We’d love a set to try out!

Plateboard - porcelain factory rejects upcycled into a chalkboard drawing surface for kids, ready to hang on the wall

available from alicja patanowska

Discovered at Lodz Design Festival last year, Alicja Patanowska’s Plateboards are inspired by the once-popular, richly-decorated earthenware plates that can be found hanging on many Polish grandmother’s walls. All of her Plateboards are porcelain factory rejects which have been partially repainted with chalkboard surfaces.

I love the idea of grouping several of these on a wall in a child’s room, creating a mini portrait gallery, or using them to practice math skills or to learn the alphabet. Great for encouraging children to think and creatively!

INSIDE-OUT, a floor lamp kids can decorate on both the inside and the outside

Inside Out
available from lin nu-yung

The Inside Out floor lamp invites kids to play an active role in designing their own room, allowing them to draw on and decorate the lampshade inside and out. The light source is LED, so there’s no danger of the lamp overheating, and the lampshade can easily be wiped clean. Such a fun idea!

Play mat for kids with built in, folding table / desk

25″” Children’s Play Mat
available from andré mirante

Created by a design student in Portugal, 25″″ is a play mat with a built-in, foldable table that kids can use to draw or play on. Deliberately low profile, it’s designed for children of all ages (there are no size or weight restrictions, unlike a table or chair). It appears functional, minimal, and likely to appeal to young children (mine included), but I might be a bit wary of little ones trapping their fingers.

HIDE || SHOW, a cabinet for kids with drawing board hidden in the doors

HIDE || SHOW Drawing Cabinet for Kids
available from cheng si

Last but not least, design student Cheng Si  added an element of secrecy to her fabulous HIDE || SHOW cabinet. She believes children should be allowed to express themselves but also be able to have secrets and to choose whom to show their little masterpieces.

The HIDE || SHOW cabinet looks like a typical piece of furniture but actually features two sets of doors – one on the inside that kids can decorate and draw on and one on the outside to hide the contents.

Pictured at the top of post: “Woody,” drawn by Gregory (age 5) and brought to life by Zut Création Textile.


  • March 8, 2013

    I’m in love with this post! A.

  • March 10, 2013

    debbie : little artist

    Woody is super cool!

  • March 10, 2013

    Jill Heidinger Pauli

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! I think one of the best ways to inspire my daughter is to have her make things alongside me. Last week we made “pocket pals” with her artwork and my own( Basically they are little soft stuffed dolls that fit in her pocket. She was so proud that she could make her own toys!

  • March 11, 2013

    Deborah Beau

    Glad to hear you like this post. You have some great ideas on your blog Jill, love the storyblocks!

  • May 12, 2015

    Angels & Santas

    You can now find Boya here:
    Shop from the post unfortunately closed.

  • […] Read the complete post here. […]

Leave a Reply