Interview with designer kukuLila Toy (kT), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Sofia Toy.

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Interview with kukuLila Toy at Monday 2nd of May 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
kT : Inspiration for the design Portable baby crib Sofia was Wooden cart for dolls, produced, from the 19th century, by the Slovenian crafstmen "Dry stuff" from Ribnica. One peace you can find in museum in Celje, Slovenia. We began to wonder what kind of toys would be right for our doughter and what will she play with in the next few years. Then we search for answers on a question, what kind of shape would be suitable and how would it blend with the environment. We came up with an organic shape, illustrating the softness of the relationship between a child and a toy baby.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
kT : The main focus at the beginning was to develop a beautiful crib for our daughter. When we saw a first prototype, we like it so much, that we decided to better develop the crib and offer it on the market. The main focus was put on safety, appearance, usefulness and organic.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
kT : Our wish is to start our own business, but it is also possibility to have a partner or to sell the design.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
kT : Designing this crib took about two years. It means from idea to final prototype. We could finished early, but my husband, fortunately, make a new design, wooden part, so we have to solve a barrier to make it work. The progress was made on design and it is easier. Whatever we will always consider the possibility to improve the product, to make different forms, to use more natural material, as more beneficial to human health and the environment.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
kT : Klavdija: The design is made by my inspiration. Reminiscing of my own childhood games awakened a forgotten desire to design. I wish to have the same moving crib like I have in my childhood. I did not find it on the market, so I decided to make it myself. I liked elliptical shape more than rectangular. My husband was happy to join the project. His inspiration came out, when he was dealing with challenge that there are already beds and cribs for playing available on the market. How to make centuries old toy, interesting design-wise, different and, especially, simple and elegant.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
kT : The design prototype was produced by us. Our wish is to start our own business. But there is a possibility to have a partner or to sell the production rights.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
kT : We design modern, simple and elegant Portable baby crib Sofia. A beautiful toy for our children and our homes.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
kT : Klavdija: Yes, I have influence. When I was a child I remember the design I had. A very similar piece is Wooden cart for dolls, produced, from the 19th century, by the Slovenian craftsmen "dry stuff" from Ribnica. One peace you can find in museum in Celje, Slovenia.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
kT : Parents with children and grandparents with grandchildren. The toy is regulary testes from 3 years up. We tested the toy ourselves on children from 2 years up about in one year period. It turned out to be very good. In the future we intend to do the regular test for children from 1 years up.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
kT : The design has new, different style and organic shape. It is simple and elegant. It fits nicely into the environment.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
kT : Our daughter is Sofia, so we decided to take that name for design. We love that old, historical name very much.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
kT : Sketching and AutoCAD.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
kT : Simple and elegant design, with specially boutique style.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
kT : Yes, we work with people with technical, specialized skills. We collaborate with a lot of companies. We had to find a carpenter and seamstress who are able to do what we imagined and had right tools. The most parts we had to develop especially for our prototype, but some parts we can buy, for example wooden stick and black rubber on the wheels, textile, paint, lacguer. For finish prototype we worked with 17 companies, including packing.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
kT : Technology played a very important role in this particular design. We had to used curved plywood panel and do the body of the crib is elliptical, and cut below. Also we had to think how the wheels will turn.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
kT : Nine prototypes were made. We showed the product in different stages of development to various people also to people with technical, specialized skills. We listened to the reactions, comments and improvement. Each contributed know-how, information and personal undertaking, so that the project could be finished. The prototype has been tested by children in one year period. Final prototype was based on the positive feedback and enthusiastic reception of the toy.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
kT : Our goal was to develop the final prototype with low budget and in accordance with regulations. There are already beds and cribs for playing available on the market, and their manufacture has a long history. They can be found in museums and castles. It was a special challenge to take centuries old toy, and to rethink it, to make it interesting, different and especially simple and elegant. The first challenge was to find right people for making design. In our case in Slovenia we do not have a lot carpenter with the appropriate technology for us. It took us several months. We have a lot of seamstress, but too expensive. It took us two years. The second challenge was to find right material. The textile, which has a certificate, had to be imported from abroad. Some of textile was already tested with EN 71, some we need to send on tests. We could buy textile in Slovenia, but it was too expensive and with no certificates. We had difficulty acquiring certified paint to match the textile. In Slovenia we do not have a lot of certificate colors available.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
kT : The main reason was the benefits of winning the award and acceptable price for us to register. Winning the award design for us means high added value for product and brand. In the phase of starting business we could get promotion and networking opportunities. We could easier achieve our goals, increase sales and get publicity. It means open door to continue with other plans in the context of our brand. It is also recognition for us that we made a product that has a good design.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
kT : We started from zero. So we had to learn everything from the beginning, especially about toys regulation, production, business operation, protecting design… We learned a lot and we are still learning.