At a time when gaming is being touted as the next-gen educational tool, it’s refreshing to come across a new toy that challenges kids to strain their imaginations using nothing else but physical wooden blocks. But these aren’t just ordinary stacking bricks for testing the bounds of gravity; they’re painted with facial features that can be combined into scores of different characters.
FaceMaker is the creation of Zoe Miller and David Goodman (of Miller Goodman), a design duo in Brighton, England, specializing in children’s books and toys. In fact, the project grew out of their Faces book, for Tate Publishing, which explores the myriad techniques for fashioning faces from disparate objects while teaching kids about significant art movements, including op-art, abstraction, junk art, and kinetic sculpture. Figuring out the shapes that would yield recognizable faces required many hours of experimental play on the part of the designers. “We had to break down the blocks and play endlessly imagining different possibilities, considering alternative options making the most from the least,” they tell Co.Design.
But even they didn’t anticipate all the possible combinations, so they set up a Flickr site, where users can post their creations. “We are always amazed what people come up with,” Miller and Goodman say.
Each side of the eco-friendly rubberwood blocks is hand-printed in Thailand using nontoxic paint. And there’s no specified age range: “We always aspire to make beautiful, open-ended, timeless toys that kids and adults will engage with together or separately,” Miller and Goodman say.
FaceMaker is available for $75 here.