The objects of play

In 1878, a father brought home a simple helicopter toy for his children. It fascinated them for months, they played and played and played with it, and even attempted to build their own versions of it.

In 1903, the two brothers who used to play with the helicopter toy, now grown-ups, became the first people to fly a plane. Wilbur and Orville Wright’s journey has started long before that, back in 1878 with a small helicopter toy.

A carbon copy of Orville Wright’s sketch, drawn from memory, of the Penaud helicopter that influenced the brothers. (Library of Congress, Wright Papers, Manuscript Division)

Imagine a toy that grows with a child. An object that accompanies children on their discoveries and explorations for years, an object that unlocks new secrets for them, that teaches them without teaching, something that is both their paintbrush and a canvas.

Imagine how well this object is designed and crafted, the materials it’s made of — the tactile sensation, how gracefully the surface ages, how the traces of usage appear on it embedding the years of experiences within this object. Imagine all the games you can play with it, not one game, all the game children came up with themselves, but also games they learned from their friends in the neighbourhood and from their friends on other continents. Imagine how much power is hidden inside of these toys, invisible, but tangible, ready to surprise and amaze the ones who own them. The power of technology that is used not as a destination but part of the journey.

Toys are not really as innocent as they look.
Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.” 
— Charles Eames.

In 2014 two people met in Berlin, Justyna — an industrial designer, who worked on wooden toys and tangible interfaces for years and Matas — a product manager at SoundCloud, software developer, a father who wanted to give his children a different way to experience the connected world. Two people with a common vision on what the kids play could be. After months of prototyping and testing, early this year we have founded a new company — Vai Kai.

Why are we starting Vai Kai? Because we want to build play objects that will grow with the future generation of people, because they will be the ones inventing the world for years to come.

And when in 20–30 years they look back at their childhood, they will remember their loving parents, their cozy home, their playground friends and maybe their toys, toys that helped them see the world in unexpected ways, toys that taught them without teaching them.

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