Tell us about your background Joy, how did you become a designer?
Ever since I was a child I liked creating, drawing and making things. I’ve always had a creative drive, as well as a drive to build. I then became a planner in advertising, and I learned to watch human behavior, to understand people’s pains and needs, to identify insights and to add value to brands and products. Design entered my life little by little, as I heard an inner calling, a desire to plan and create tangible things, that could have a practical use. Ideas began to appear, and I began to draw. I had little technical knowledge and a woodworker who was building the furniture at my house in São Paulo got interested in my projects and decided to help me turn them into prototypes. Only after a while I went to Madrid to do a Masters in Design for Children and I never stopped studying design, visiting fairs in other countries and being connected with the area.
Why do you design wooden toys for children?
I believe everything came from a “childish look” that I had as a designer, of seeing the fun in things, of looking for joy in day-to-day tasks. I would look at the results and they were clearly childish. However, thinking about it, I concluded that many of the things I make actually speak to the “inner child” of adults of all ages. The playful furniture and certain toys inspire fun and invite you to play. But when I’m connected with the little Joy inside of me, the design process flows in a more fun and relaxed way.
What was your inspiration for your wooden puzzle “Narizotas”?
My own nose. I always thought I had a big nose, and this bothered me as a child and as a teenager. With time, I learned to accept my nose as a characteristic that makes me unique and has everything to do with my personality. I now see my nose as a nice feature, my trademark. I created the puzzle “Narizotas” so that children and families with big noses can play with the subject, strengthen their self-esteem and face potential bullying situations. I am now developing a book with the tale of the Narizotas family, which will be sold with the toy and will discuss all of the emotions related to this issue of aesthetic standards and self-acceptance.
How do children respond to “Narizotas”?
Children enjoy the challenge of putting the puzzle together and do it intuitively. Some children prioritize the game with characters, imagining dialogues and giving life to them. We can say that some play with Narizotas horizontally, on a table, and others vertically, moving the pieces as dolls. I hope the tale of the Narizota Family can deepen the relationship of children with these characters and impact them positively.
Are there other products that you produce specifically for children?
Yes, I have designed other toys and children’s furniture. In the case of toys, I have been working a lot with wood and felt. I believe this is due to the influence of my family. My grandfather was a sculptor, and my mother sews and does cross-stitching like no one. I enjoy the warm, flexible and colorful touch of the felt combined with the toughness and neutrality of the wood. I would like to draw attention to a dollhouse I designed using these materials, in a modular DIY line that leaves space for boys’ and girls’ imagination. The furniture I design has a colorful and subjective vibe, bringing joy to every environment.
A few personal questions at the end:
What toys did you play with as a child Joy? Did you have a favorite toy?
The best part of playing was making the toys, creating sets, making things with my own hands. I used to collect empty containers, various types of paper and pieces of fabric, buttons and other materials to make robots, dollhouses, fashion shows, dolls, cars… My younger sister and I would spend hours and hours in our toy room, which was maybe my first design studio. My favorite toy, however, was designed and made by my grandfather José: a yellow wooden truck.
If you were to look into a crystal ball and predict your future as a designer: What children’s product would you like to design next?
I am still very much interested in dollhouses. They are classics, a timeless best-seller that pleases adults and children. I have done a lot of research on the theme and I have many ideas in my sketch book. I believe it is possible to innovate in many different ways, offering more stories, illustrations and technology in this sector. I am also convinced that dollhouses can be a tool for family integration and a powerful multi-generational game.