Kärry by Antony Gallay at ÉCAL

ÉCAL students turn Artek furniture waste into children's toys

Students from Swiss design school ÉCAL have used material offcuts and production rejects from Finnish manufacturer Artek to create a collection of toys.

A modernist-style doll's house, a balance bicycle, a wheelie chair and a cuddly sheep are among the designs created by second-year students from ÉCAL's Bachelor Industrial Design programme.

Wheeling is a wheelie chair made by Marco Renna at ÉCAL using an Artek stool
Wheeling is a wheelie chair created by Marco Renna using parts for an E60 stool

Others include plush toys shaped like sea creatures, a playground slide and a hanging ladder "to reach for the stars".

The objects were created under the guidance of Swiss-French designer and ÉCAL tutor Julie Richoz.

Piknikki is a table cloth made by Aleksandra Nazarova at ÉCAL using waste textiles from Artek
Aleksandra Nazarova's Piknikki table cloth doubles as a play mat

Richoz took 27 students to Turku in Finland to visit the factory of Artek, the furniture brand established in 1935 by the country's most famous architect and designer, Alvar Aalto.

Here, the students collected both material offcuts and half-finished production pieces that had been rejected.

L-Bike is a balance bike made by Shania Soares at ÉCAL using offcuts from Artek furniture
Shania Soares' L-Bike uses components from different furniture pieces

As a result, the designs feature recognisable elements from various classic Alvar Aalto designs.

Designers Jessy Bueno, Léo Crespin, Aramis Rüdisühli, Nicolas Honegger, Bruno Pauli Caldas, Mattia Cook and Marco Renna all created toys incorporating the best-selling E60 stool.

A swing seat, a mini office chair, a coat stand and a minimalist sledge "to enjoy the snowy Lapland winter" are among the results.

Similarly, the wheels of Aalto's Tea Trolley 900 were utilised in Sam Lombardo's Carriola wheelbarrow, Antony Gallay's Kärry toy wagon and Shania Soares' L-Bike.

Gone Fishing by Cindy Sacher at ÉCAL
Cindy Sacher created a wooden Gone Fishing game

In line with Artek's ethos, which champions the use of natural and renewable materials, some of the designs are wooden versions of toys that are more typically made from plastic.

These include Cindy Sacher's Gone Fishing game, Robin Luginbühl's marble maze and a pre-school toy made by Inès Aznar combining natural wood and pebbles.

My Tiny House by Tiziana Rocha Da Silva at ÉCAL
My Tiny House is a modernist-style doll house by Tiziana Rocha Da Silva

Others feature famous textile prints. Léonie Sammons turned these fabrics into playful puppets, while Aleksandra Nazarova created a table cloth that doubles as a play mat.

"Staying true to the spirit of Artek and its founders, the products promote conscious manufacturing and seek to highlight the natural materials that have gone into producing these designs," said ÉCAL.

Ricochets by Inès Aznar at ÉCAL
Inès Aznar combines wood and pebbles for her Ricochets pre-school toy

The designs were first exhibited during Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale 2022.

A selection of the designs are now being presented in exhibitions at Artek stores in Helsinki and in Tokyo, where the designs will be displayed alongside similar works by Musashino Art University students.

ÉCAL Toys with Artek is on show at Artek Helsinki Store from 9 January to 4 February 2023, while ÉCAL + MAU Toys with Artek is on show at Artek Tokyo Store from 4 to 20 February 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.

The photography is by Jasmine Deporta.


Project credits

Designers: Inès Aznar, Alicia Berclaz, Jessy Bueno, Mattia Cook, Léo Crespin, Charlotte Dubois, Sacha Dufour, Louise Dupont, Hugo Duport, Jade Eymann, Antony Gallay, Camila Hidalgo, Nicolas Honegger, Sam Lombardo, Robin Luginbühl, Julie Meyer, Aleksandra Nazarova, Sven Odermatt, Bruno Pauli Caldas, Annick Persechini, Marco Renna, Tiziana Rocha da Silva, Aramis Rüdisühli, Cindy Sacher, Léonie Sammons, Shania Soares, Noah Watzlawick
Partners: Artek, Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale, Summer University programme of the Board of Higher Education (DGES) – State of Vaud

More images

Trames by Robin Luginbühl at ÉCAL
LLL by Charlotte Dubois at ÉCAL
Carriola by Sam Lombardo at ÉCAL
Pakko by Noah Watzlawick at ÉCAL
Näytä by Léonie Sammons at ÉCAL
Mustikka by Sacha Dufour at ÉCAL
Mielikki by Mattia Cook at ÉCAL
Kartek by Jessy Bueno at ÉCAL
Soaring by Annick Persechhini at ÉCAL
Toboggan by Massimo Scheidegger at ÉCAL
Sense Bait by Alicia Berclaz at ÉCAL
Calico by Léo Crespin at ÉCAL
Swing 60 by Aramis Rüdisühli at ÉCAL
Arvoitus by Hugo Duport at ÉCAL
Awake by Louise Dupont at ÉCAL
Jakk by Nicolas Honegger at ÉCAL
Tila by Julie Meyer at ÉCAL
Palapeli by Sven Odermatt at ÉCAL
Koti by Jade Eymann at ÉCAL