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Co-Designing with Children

Brain Bridges

3D viewing room
Photo taken by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez
This project is part of Antenna

Danielle Begnaud facilitated seven co-design workshops with a group of eight children. Together they designed Brain Bridges, a set of generative shapes designed to spark imagination & creative play. The set allows kids to construct anything out of the cardboard boxes that they already have at home.

The freedom to develop personal interests during childhood can feel limited, because the material culture of childhood is controlled by adults. Children are rarely involved in the design of their toys; they’re usually just end users. But doesn't everyone deserve a say in their own development? Begnaud facilitated seven co-design sessions with a group of eight kids to explore how toy design might change when children are considered partners in the design process. She partnered with KidsTeam at the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab and they used the cooperative inquiry method. Begnaud and her design partners took a project through design phases like research, ideation, prototyping, & testing. As proof of this method, they designed Brain Bridges, a set of shapes for kids to construct anything out of the cardboard boxes they have at home. Designed to spark imagination and creative play, the set includes fasteners to connect different boxes together and attach open-ended shapes. Whether you have one box that you attach shapes to or ten boxes that you connect into a big structure, the set helps children transition into an imaginary world where boxes can be anything.