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The theme for this year’s Tallinn Design Night Festival was Future Materials. With the ongoing climate crisis, smart future materials have become an even more relevant topic among designers. The festival introduced material creation to a wider public: from innovative techniques to the growing fabric from kombucha.

But how are materials connected to children?

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Photo credit: Sigrid Kägi

In designing for children materials are equally important. Children’s play is guided by material characteristics: its strength, softness, texture, pattern, thickness, etc. During the festival, VIVISTOP Telliskivi organised a series of workshops for children under the title Oh, what a paper mess. The workshops focused on demonstrating the potential of a play through a single material. The chosen material was paper because it is easy for children to modify. To avoid the usage of common everyday A4-sized drawing paper, we used various large format paper and cardboard materials, such as rolled printing paper, cardboard boxes and tubes. The only extra material given to children was a paper tape.

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Photo credit: Sigrid Kägi

The workshop was based on open-ended play principles. To trigger children’s play, temporary installation from the paper was created. After seeing the installation, the children did not need further guidance. The given situation gave children enough of a trigger to start their play activity.

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Photo credit: Eva Liisa Kubinyi

During the festival, 4 workshops were organised and a total of 60 children in the age of 4 -16 years old participated. Before the workshop and on the spot, parents and grandparents were encouraged to join the play.

In the beginning of the workshop, children focused on destroying the initial setup using jumping techniques. This process released the necessary building materials and the rebuilding could start. Tape was used to create various forms of different shape and size — from huts, ghost houses, labyrinths, towers and windmills to a pool filled with smashed paper and paper-costumes. During the tiresome building children crawled in the sea of paper and climbed on the cardboard boxes to catch the height.

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Photo credit: Sigrid Kägi

The workshop vividly visualised what brings children the most joy — freedom, chaos and challenging their physical capabilities. It is important to give children opportunities for self-expression and it is the designer’s role to make sure that the products and services allow children’s play to organically occur.

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Photo credit: Eva Liisa Kubinyi

The author of the workshop concept is Eva Liisa Kubinyi, VIVITA’s experience designer and a recent graduate from Gothenburg University Child Culture Design Master’s Program. Her thesis mainly focused on creating big paper installations in collaboration with pedagogues in the school context. These kinds of temporary installations gave young children the power to recreate the design of their classroom using paper. The summary of the project can be found on the website www.ohwhatamess.com. It contains hands-on tools for how to recreate these workshops by yourself.

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Photo credit: Sigrid Kägi

Thank you for taking part in the workshops and the Tallinn Design Night Festival team for collaboration!

Thank you for the materials: LaMuu artisan ice cream, Bicycle Studio Jooks, Think Print Paper Service, Artproof Art Laboratory, Nõelakoda and Velvet.

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Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator

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