tegu magnetic wooden blocks“Whether through clever problem-solving, ground-breaking innovation, or adding beauty where there once was none, great design has myriad opportunities to make life better. That’s why consumers care about design, whether they’re able to articulate it or not.”  Nate Lau, Head Designer at Tegu 


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Where were Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks when I was growing up?

tegu magnetic wooden blocksTegu blocks are deluxe hand-crafted blocks made with luxurious materials and magnets hidden inside their solid hard wood construction. Instead of simply stacking pieces of wood on top of each other, these quality blocks creatively challenge kids as they’re able to go beyond the traditional constraints of gravity and build out, not just up.

There are a variety of sets which include square cubes, triangles and a range of rectangular plank sizes. Options for finishes include: natural, a mix of color tints and the more expensive mahogany. These classic shapes encourage imagination while the hidden magnets enhance the user experience. Kids can build futuristic cars, robots, animals and even helicopters.

Cubes: 1.18″
Jumbo Planks: 0.60″ x 3.54″
Long Planks: 0.30″ x 4.72″
Short Planks: 0.30″ x 2.36″

Sets range from $20.00 for eight pieces up to $1500.00 for 480 pieces. Accessories including additional square cubes, triangles and a carrying case range from $12.00 – $24.00.


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I’m always excited to hear the philosophy of creative minds and what drives them to create products that positively impact our lives…

INTERVIEW – Nate Lau, Head Designer at Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks 

brandnewdaydesigns: Tegu is more than just wooden blocks, they’re pieces of art, right? Can you elaborate on the design process and decisions on styles and themes?

Nate Lau: We certainly like to think of our blocks as little pieces of art. Each piece actually passes through 21 different sets of hands on the way from start to finish so there’s a hand-crafted aspect to our product that might not be apparent. As far as the design process is concerned, our number one goal is to encourage boundless play in kids of all ages. The best way to do this is to view the world through the eyes of a child, so we regularly check-in with kids along the way. Each theme is chosen to be a springboard for a child’s imagination and each piece we craft is part of our comprehensive Magnetic Wooden Block system, so they all work seamlessly together.

tegu wooden blocksbndd: How does playing with Tegu blocks impact a child’s future?

NLPlay is so natural and so vital to a child’s development. In fact, it’s so natural that the benefits can be easy to miss sometimes. Play is a safe environment where we learn to take risks. It’s through play that we first discover our own imagination and our true self. I think the best feature of Tegu blocks is that while they work so well together, the magnets also allow for play and interaction with countless other surfaces, toys, and objects around a house. The invisible attraction creates a positive feedback loop that rewards curiosity, and even encourages kids to think beyond the constraints of a traditional play experience. There’s no shortage of studies indicating block play has a part in fostering STEM/STEAM priorities, and while we don’t disagree, we believe the only ‘purpose’ for play is that it’s fun. It all starts with fun.

More about STEM/STEAM here…

bndd: Describe a good wooden block for kids.

NLLarge enough to build with some scale, but small enough to not hurt too bad when your little sister throws one at you! Realistically, all blocks are great. There’s a reason they have withstood the test of time and technology and there’s a reason many parents and teachers swear by them as a playroom must-have. The best wooden block is one that is built around a construction system and comes with lots of friends, because you can never have enough.

bndd: A bad wooden block?

NLSplinters. Nobody likes splinters.

bndd: Can you elaborate on the material of the blocks and where the wood comes from?

NLTegu was founded to bring sustainable change to Honduras through economic growth. Therefore, it makes the most sense for us to source local Central American hardwoods for our blocks and put money back into the Honduran economy. But while some may consider that a concession, the real truth is Central America has some of the prettiest woods in the world. We consider making wooden toys a great responsibility, which is why we work with local co-ops to source each mature tree responsibly. Also, as part of our effort to renew Honduras, we work with Trees For The Future to replant trees, and have planted over half a million trees to date.

Watch this video of creations built with Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks…

bndd: Why are Tegu blocks special among the vast world of wooden toys for kids?

NL: There are plenty of things that set our product apart from other toys — from our social responsibility to our company mission. But the two things I’m most proud of are our manufacturing and our design. It’s only with our sophisticated and clever manufacturing techniques that we’re able to achieve the finished magnetic blocks. And thanks to that, another unique feature is that Tegu Blocks are designed with a priority on simplicity and timelessness to last for generations and be enjoyable through the ages, for all ages.

tegu magnetic wooden blocksbndd: As long as a product works — is functional — why should consumers care about the design?

NLEven though I’m a designer, I’m not going to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t care about. Instead, I like to encourage people to buy products that they like, and everyone has their own reasons for liking things. Some may value beauty more than others. Some may value the story behind a product. From a product design standpoint, function should be the absolute first thing on the list to cross off, but once that’s done, then what? Think of the product in your life that you’re most passionate about, and my guess is that it brings far more value than functionality.

bndd: Do you think moms and dads underestimate the impact ‘good design’ can have on their children’s experiences with their toys?

NLI’m not sure I’d say parents ‘underestimate’ the impact, but perhaps the value of well-designed products isn’t always readily apparent to all consumers, although the benefits of the design certainly are realized. We’ve found over and over that a parent’s main concern is whether a child will play with a product they buy, and for how long. We’ve designed Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks as a system that will have play value that matures in complexity as a child grows and matures as well. This is a benefit of good design, and while we’ve received plenty of positive feedback from parents about our blocks being a hit with their kids, the success is rarely attributed to the ‘design’ of the blocks, and that is just fine with us.


Photos: 1. Tegu Tints, 14 piece set, $35.00 2. Jumper, Stunt Team Collection, 25 pieces, $75.00 3. Magnetron, Future Collection, 32 pieces, $100.00.

DISCOVER:  Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks

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niche modern lighting“I love going to environments that are beautifully designed, well thought out and have beautiful lighting. I think that makes people feel peaceful and at home and it sparks good conversation and community.”  JEREMY PYLES, Creative Director and Co-Founder, Niche Modern


Hate is a strong word, but I seriously don’t like bad lighting. Period. And there’s a lot out there. How about those unlucky suckers who work forty plus hours a week surrounded by white walls with numbing florescent lighting beaming over their heads? Trust me there are better ways to stimulate productivity.

niche modern lightingHas anyone ever pulled the ‘florescent lights in the home’ trick on you? I hope my experience is a rarity, but I’ve been the guest in a new home – built from the ground up – where many of the primary living spaces were lit with florescent lighting. Not just bulbs, but tubes as well! I guarantee that bluish glaring light in a dining room does not make for a cozy dinner. I later found out from the architect that the energy conservationist homeowners valued the exterior look and interior flow, but were downright cheap when it came to accessories; particularly lighting fixtures. Sigh.

Guess what people? The future is now. Functional items can be well-designed. As a matter of fact you should insist upon it.

niche modern lightingIndeed, hardware pricing and energy consumption are important factors. However, if you find something you like and are surprised by the costs, instead of an initial “No, let’s find a cheaper option,” I recommend you sleep on it. Whether it’s your home or a work environment, it’s important to have an open mind when making interior design decisions. Yes, accessories should be functional and efficient; they should also be welcoming, tasteful, make a statement and comfortable for your family, friends or co-workers. Keep in mind these touches are going to be around for a while. Quality and beauty are always worth the investment.


niche modern lightingJeremy Pyles Interview

ICFF is one of New York City’s premier trade shows exhibiting what’s new and unique in contemporary home furnishings.

Among the myriad of lighting companies, I was excited to discover Niche Modern, designers and manufacturers of handblown lighting pendants and furnishings. As I approached their booth to take a pictures of their new Helio Chroma and Pointelle Series pendants, I was greeted by the company’s leader Jeremy Pyles who jokingly asked if was I going to post that image on Instagram. Jeremy shared some of his insights on the benefits of ‘good design’…

bndd: Lighting IS art, right?

JP: I think it’s functional art. When people look at good lighting, obviously it’s functional. It has a purpose. It casts light. It illuminates things around, but the object itself when it is illuminated and you can see the beauty of the materials whether its handblown glass that’s transparent or semi-opaque glass and you can see a beautifully designed bulb, it becomes an art piece in itself and the affect it has on the human psyche in terms of making you feel warm and fuzzy without that person even knowing that’s the affect. I think that’s very powerful.

niche modern lighting

bndd: Why is lighting key when designing a space?

JP: I’m being sorta of silly, but it kinda harkens back to when we were cavemen sitting around a fire roasting our wild boar. It’s very nostalgic. I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the years “Why do moths gravitate to the flame?” or “Why do humans gravitate to the campfire or a candle?” You want to share meals with family and friends and gather around a beautiful light source and wonderful meal. That’s what it’s all about. Then we fall in love, have babies and the cycle of life continues (laughs).

niche modern lightingbndd: Do you think consumers underestimate lighting?

JP: I think they have historically. I think that’s changing. Your average consumer is being inundated with beautiful brands and advertising. High-end design is even filtering down to places like Target. I think the consciousness of the average consumer is being elevated everyday and it’s a wonderful thing. It just makes our world more beautiful. There’s a lot of thought put into industrial design and product design [such as] lampost in parks. I don’t know if the average consumer is aware of it, but I think they are reaping the benefits of it and in turn are seeking good design when they go to buy something. Maybe they’ll go to Target and they’re looking for a paper towel holder or a lemon squeezer or a garlic press and they’re given choices between an average product and a beautifully designed one. I think intrinsically consumers are choosing the beautifully designed one. I think we’re being genetically trained to select better designed things. It’s almost like Darwinism. Poorly designed things are falling away because the market is being inundated with better designed things.


Photos of Niche Modern products: 1. HELIO pendant 2. POINTELLE pendant 3. HELIO multi-pendants on display at ICFF 4. BOA table lamps 5. CONVEX votives.

DISCOVER:  Niche Modern


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malene graphicCarpets provide warmth, cushioning and reduce noise, but I think a lot of us underestimate the artistic impact carpeting can have. When making decisions about design elements needed to personalize a living space or create an attractive work environment, where does carpet selection rank? Are you interested in more of a neutral foundation or a focal point with vibrant colors, bold patterns and textures?

I discovered Malene (May-lay-nee) Barnett, President and Design Director of Malene B. Carpets exhibiting at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City.

Watch video below...

Malene B. Carpets is a Brooklyn, NY based design studio specialized in custom, hand-crafted contemporary carpets for luxury residential and commercial spaces.

From Malene B.’s perspective, carpet choice should be at the top of your list when envisioning an environment. “Carpets can transform a space, they are the finishing piece to a room. They really complete the story. So I really think carpet is important to a space.”

malene b carpets

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Malene B.’s carpets are inspired by her travels around the world. One of the goals of her brand is to inspire people to look at fabric as a way to connect to the global community. “We all use fabric in some way in our lives. We wear clothes. We interact with fabric through our furniture and tableware. So there’s all these connections with fabric in our lives and it’s a global thing. Because my background is textile design [Fashion Institute of Technology], I’ve always had a passion with textiles when I travel and the intricacy of how they’re made. Each time I go to a different country I seek out the arts; particularly fabrics and I really see how it connects us.”

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VIDEO: In this interview with bndd Editor Harold Abrams, Malene B. discusses the artistry of carpets, how her travels around the world inspire her designs and how staying focused helps navigate the challenges of building a creative business…

A Custom Alternative . . .
As an option to ordering a custom carpet — Malene B. has partnered with SURYA, manufacturer of high quality and innovative rugs and home accessories offering an exclusive selection of carpets in the Malene B. style.

DISCOVER:  Malene B. Carpets 


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