From paper flowers to platonic kisses
Having graduated with an electrical engineering degree, Suhasini Paul decided that toys were her real future — and, after a 2005 post-grad at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, she began designing them with abandon. Her toys are often educational in nature; after researching the disorder “selective mutism” — in which a child who is normally capable of speech cannot speak in specific situations or to specific people — Paul designed the voice recording toy Dialogue to build speaking confidence. A boardgame of hers that now sells in 14 countries teaches children about nature’s water cycle.
Paul founded and runs Pink Elefant, a toy design consultancy and product development firm which is based in her hometown of Delhi, and promotes excellence in toy design through lectures at Indian design schools and regular TV appearances. The newsmagazine India Today profiled Paul and some of her work:
Learn at play. That is the much-touted route to learning, say experts. For Suhasini, 29, it comes easy. She has happy memories of spending hours with her grandmother, Vimal Mahapure, and of the innumerable paper flowers the two of them would make. That background pushed her toward designing toys that are not just meaningless tools of distraction.
Her toys are unusual, innovative yet educational: say, the miniature chalk chess-board carved with hair pins, the fun games with bamboo sticks, the dialogue-aid toy which helps autistic children, the flash cards with fruits and vegetables, the playing cards with long and short vowels. Her personal favourite is the Platonic Kiss Game, wherein a kiss-sensitive LED ring connects one to a loved one a thousand miles away. On kissing the ring, the dear friend or relative gets the message, as the other ring starts to glow. It’s all about imagination.
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