“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
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.
NL: Play 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.
bndd: Describe a good wooden block for kids.
NL: Large 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?
NL: Splinters. Nobody likes splinters.
bndd: Can you elaborate on the material of the blocks and where the wood comes from?
NL: Tegu 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.
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.
NL: Even 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?
NL: I’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.
DISCOVER: Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
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