Big Book – literary play furniture made of cardboard by Maria Roberta Russi


Can you elaborate on how and why you developed your “Big Book” Roberta?

Big Book is a children-sized book, big enough for kids to “enter” and experience it. Instead of written tales, the book has scenographies, which work as backdrop for the child to create his own stories. Children can flip through the pages and “travel” from one scenography into another.

Created to enrich children symbolic play, Big Book provides the space to create and re-create a story in action, inspiring mental images and their representation in different dimensions. It prepares the enviroment with activities at their level and offers beautiful lasting backgrounds that support the most diverse games.

The idea for the literary play furniture was born last year. My daughter was about 8 months old and I was spending a lot of time in bed or on the sofa with her, breastfeeding. In those moments one’s mind has much time to wonder. And it was in one of those moments that one idea led to another, and inspired by the books I was reading to her at the time. It occurred to me that it would be amazing to have a book, big enough for the kid to go inside and get immersed in fantasy worlds.

With the collaboration and advice of a friend who is a child psychomotor therapist and loved the idea, I gradually developed the initial idea into something feasible. When Kids Design Award was calling to submit designs for children’s products, I decided to submit my idea and it got nominated. That’s when I did the full-scale prototype in a record time of 2 weeks!

Do you have children of your own? If so, how do they respond to your “Big Book”?

Yes, I have a daughter who is now almost two years old. And Big Book already belongs to her. It’s in her play area and she loves it. We sit together and look at the pictures and it’s a source of inspiration to create stories. As she grows up she plays with it differently. At the beginning she was fascinated by all the little details in the pictures. Now that she is a bit older, she likes to play in the part of the house or just enjoys sitting there playing with her toys, sheltered by Big Book.

Is there something else you want to tell us about, Roberta?

I would like to mention that Big Book is more than a toy, it’s a play furniture also and it is part of the child’s life, because it is part of the child’s space. Its images or scenographies, as I like to call them, besides inspiring stories and imaginative play, are drawings that decorate the child’s room. I imagined the pictures, but they were realised by a digital artist, who took great care on creating attractive images, almost like paintings.

I studied Interior design, and creating quality spaces is very important to me. I like to think that the images in Big Book contribute to create an inviting environment, where the child will grow up surrounded by beautiful things.

Now, your “Big Book” is still a prototype, but what are your plans for it in the near future?

Big Book is still in the design phase. After the full-scale prototype I presented to the Kids Design Award (KDA), I made a few more small studio prototypes, and kept on refining the idea. Thanks to the KDA experience and feedback from fellow designers and parents who where really supportive about the idea, I’ve been working on improving the design to finally produce it on a larger scale.

I am currently looking for someone to produce it. As it has a manual workload, it is not just printing and cutting the cardboard, it is hard to find someone able to do it.

And last but not least – tell us something about you Roberta and your career. Where and what did you studied and what was particularly formative for you?

I studied Architecture in Uruguay, where I was born. In 2015 I moved to Germany and I continued my studies in Interior design. But I’ve always loved product- and graphic design. Very often these disciplines are interrelated and the projects I enjoy the most are the ones that have a bit of everything. Big Book is an example of such a project.

Years ago, while still living in Uruguay, I started my brand called Cookiefing. I started designing bags and accessories as a hobby, and now I’m evolving the brand into designing products for moms and kids. And I plan to continue on that path.


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