The Generative Construction Toy

When you were a kid, and you played with your Legos, did you ever wish you could design your own pieces? Did you ever try to design your own toys?

Designed by Ian Gonsher     •    Spring 2012

Makezine Post      

The Generative Construction Toy is an iterative design exercise that develops students’ abilities to frame and reframe their product and process through the cumulative refinements of free play.

There are different strategies for playing with construction toys. Sometimes these toys come with instructions, or a picture on the front of the box clearly defining the goal. But more often than not, the pieces are dumped on the floor, and the form emerges in response to an evolving process of play. This semester we explored both of these complementary design strategies.

We began this exercise by playing with a construction toy made up of four elements. Then, building upon what we had learned by playing with them, altered the design of the elements in Adobe Illustrator, and laser cut the new pieces. We played with them again. We repeated this process in a series of iterations, and as we did, a diverse range of design typologies emerged. We produced a wide range of work—moving well beyond the toy—from fashion to furniture design.