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toy design:

creating a conversation about plastic through musical toy design

Our prompt was to create a series of toys that engage the different types of play that children can participate in. Dhruv Mishra, industrial designer and expert in child accessibility came up with the idea of a set of musical instruments that would create a conversation around plastic reuse, recycling, and the perils of waste.

We wanted to document the early ideation phases of our project in a way that would give an accurate picture of our design process, and landed finally on a short podcast recording.


The podcast details the early conceptual stages of our design, how we landed on certain concepts, and how we chose the materials and forms for our first toy: the cajon.

BoxCast.mp3Ross Cameron & Dhruv Mishra
00:00 / 05:48

inspiration & process videos

Once we decided we'd be making the cajon, the first step was to draw out the process and order of operations for creating the body of the cajon from polycarbonate plastic.

making the cajon


Before building the complete cajon, Dhruv and I created a 3d model and did several test renders to check our overall dimensions, proportions, and aesthetics—the latter being fairly easy when you're working with a transparent cube.


vacuum forming

After successfully building the cajon, we moved on to the build out for the other instruments in our set.

We chose vacuum forming as a way to quickly establish shape, while leaving ourselves the option of filling each form with our ground-up plastic shaker beads.

Here you see Dhruv arranging our positive molds in the vacuum former in Pratt's design shop.


playground design


Again, where would we be without the genius of Dhruv Mishra? After some ideation and some rough sketching from me, Dhruv and I decided to choose an amphitheater-style play environment for our instruments.


This type of playground would encourage children of all ages to explore the sounds of their own instruments and those of their peers, as well as allowing the creation of collaborative music between peers, family members, and adult supervisors of any kind.

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