Meaningful Design of Toys

Document Type : Original Article


LAB for Play and Design. Design School Kolding, Kolding, Denmark


Designing objects intended for excitement rather than mere satisfaction has long been a popular subject of design research. Understanding the meaning structures of objects for joy and excitement offers relevant perspectives in this regard for industrial designers. Toys, as objects of play, are pertinent representations of this category and can be an inspirational reference point. The study explores meaning in relation to product design with a particular focus on toys, utilizing the five categories of meaning as a framework for unfolding meaning structures. The aim of the study is to explicate how meaning structures may be examined and designed for, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to toys. The study indicates that design based on meaning structures rather than exuberant design aesthetics may lead to more meaningful experiences of joyful immersion and exploration of wonder. The paper further aims to demonstrate how the design of toys – and other objects intended for joy and excitement – should (to some degree) adhere to the state of wonder, which may be aided by a focus on meaning structures.