CuteLittle UglyThings
© 2010 by Nalisha ChourariaAll Rights Reserved.No part of this cute little ugly publication may be reproducedin any form w...
DIPLOMA      DOCUMENTATION                                   done by                             cute little ugly         ...
CONTENTSDesign brief 6Process 11User description 12ResearchJapan 13Interviews 21Market trends 35Workshops 38Insights & Opp...
“Ugly is a cute word.”          -me                         5
BRIEFTo create a range of unconventional toysfor children that are sick of cute to:Experiment with the nature of suchirreg...
“Many of the old children’s rhymes and fairytales arevery graphic and gruesome.  In recent years, politicalcorrectness and...
BackgroundI noticed that children often fixated themselves    Even though the new age parent knows thatto sad and morbid t...
Research QuestionsOften children play gruesome games or say things when adultsare out of earshot. How can I expose this si...
Proposition                                          Resources•	   Conduct workshops with children between         •	   Fi...
PROCESSProcess   Conceptual process         Design process          Readings/videos            Ideation          Japan tri...
USER DESCRIPTION     Target Audience     Age: 5-7 years     Sex: boys and girls     economic background: middle class and ...
JAPANDuring the last week of July, I made a trip to Tokyo, Japan.I wanted to go to Japan for it’s Kawaii* culture and biza...
14
Most stores were shrines to cuteness but long with the pink fluff andcuteness, I found some bizarre toys. Some were sort o...
During my first week in Tokyo, I got the opportunity to visitmuseums, art galleries, toy stores and libraries there. They ...
17
This is Kewpie.     It’s a doll I bought from Japan. These babies are sold in packets by     the dozen. I was intrigued by...
19
“I know a lot of parents      who don’t know what’s     been happening at school      and are later shocked to     find ou...
RADHIKA .S. DCOSTA                                                                                      CouncellorSometime...
want to eat you, if u do this, this will happen, etc.”   When dealing with kids, asking them what WE                      ...
“Out of curiousity, many kids will put their most  beloved mouse in the   microwave, or catch something and cut it to  see...
KALPANA                                                                                          CouncellorWhenever we tal...
“I look for cute cute toys. Kids like all stuffed toys  because they are cute,soft and colourful. I can’tdescribe cute but...
ARCHANA                                                    House wife and mother of 6 year old TanushArchana is a housewif...
“My son asks for toys hesees on tv, especially theones like Ben 10, etc. butonce i explain to him, hedoes understand, at l...
ANURADHA SHANKAR                                                      Freelance writer and mother of 7 year old SamhithAnu...
“A friend had taken his 4 year old   daughter to a party, where she was smothered with compliments  - “oooh, you’re so cut...
JOEL HENRIQUEZ                                                Toy maker and father of 4 year old twin boy and girlJoel’s d...
“Their dolls are always  dying, getting lost or  separated from theirmothers, drastic accidentshappen, with limbs hurt    ...
CHITRA VISHWANATH                                         Teacher and mother of 12 year old Rishab, 7 year old RheaChitra ...
“Soft toys or stuffeddolls come in the cute       category.”        -Deepa Shah                         33
DEEPA SHAH                               Graphic designer and mother of 4 year old twin boys, Arjun and AryanDeepa’s kids ...
MARKET TRENDS‘All the toys one sees are essentially microcosms of the adult world. They are all reducedcopies of human obj...
Types of playMotor/Physical Play                                                    Constructive PlayMotor play allows for...
Games With RulesDevelopmentally, most children progressfrom an egocentric view of the world to anunderstanding of the impo...
WORKSHOPSWorkshop 1This workshop was a 1 hour workshop               and make it special or give it super powers.conducted...
Aim:•	   How do kids relate to toys that lack facial          One girl was painting the Kewpie doll red all     features o...
40
Clockwise:Poisonous cake.“If you touch it, your hand will getburnt. If you eat it you’ll be dead.One time, my grandfather ...
42
43
Workshop 2Cute/Not cuteThis was a 40 minutes workshop conducted      During the next half hour, the kids were askedwith cl...
Aim•	   Do kids this young have an understanding   6. What’s not cute?     of what is cute and what is not cute?      A le...
Workshop 3This was a 40 minutes workshop conducted            7. Can slide into the TV and meet Mickey andwith class 1 kid...
IMAGE CHILD’S DRAWING                        47
Workshop 4I placed 3 dolls in sand, half buried hoping children will find itwhile playing. 2 were Kewpies that I had bough...
Outcomes:1. Kids would immediately bury it.2. A group of kids made a mountain of sand and placed thedoll on top. They were...
Kewpie doll and a doll from a local toy shop burried in sand at a     children’s park for an experiment.50
51
INSIGHTSFrom Parents•	   Very few toys keep children engaged for     long.•	    Children are heavily influenced by the    ...
From Workshops•	   Cuteness is mainly associated with     physical attributes, mostly to that of a     baby.•	   Children ...
OPPORTUNITIESHow can I create something for childrenthat are sick of cute?How can I create toys that areengaging?How can I...
EXPERIMENTExperiment:At one point of time, I wanted to to break out of the stereotypicalway of interacting with existing t...
56
CONCEPTTo create a set of unconventional/irregular/not cute stuffed toysto experiment with the nature of the toys both phy...
What’s my project?Im creating unconventional, ‘not cute’ toys for   What is the purpose behind doing this5-7 year old chil...
MATERIAL EXPLORATIONI looked at different types of material for the exterior and for the filling - cottonscraps, cotton, s...
Moodboard     Many early stuffed animals were actual animal skins;     much like what would be used in taxidermy.     This...
Toy 1Sketches:Prototype:             61
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User testAdults:                                            Children:•	   Gross.                                        •	...
Toy 2Sketches:Prototype:64
65
User testAdults:                                          Children:•	   The color is dull. Kids won’t like it be-   •	   O...
Toy 3Sketches:Prototype:             67
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User testAdults:                                      Children:•	   So many eyes make it a litltle scary.   •	   I like th...
Toy 4Sketches:Prototype:70
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User testAdults:                                           Children:•	   One of the teachers was disgusted by         •	  ...
Toy 5Sketches:Prototype:             73
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User testAdults:                                            Children:•	   One thought it was gross because they         •	...
Toy 6Sketches:Prototype:76
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Toy 7Sketches:Prototype:78
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UMESH                                                      Manager of Sapphire toy store, BangaloreI met with the manager ...
MORE ITERATIONS                  81
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INSIGHTFUL RESOURCESAlbert Bandura - Bobo Doll Experiment               James Bulger Murder Case(video)                   ...
CUTECuteness is a kind of attractive beauty commonly associatedwith youth, innocence and helplessness, as well as a scient...
Additionally, the phenomenon is not restricted to humans. Theyoung of many mammal and bird species share a similar setof t...
VIDEOThe toys are tools to get reactions from adults and children, whichwill help me understand the difference in their pe...
LOOKING BACKLearnings•	   To appreciate the unusual.•	   To step out of my comfort zone.•	   To look at the conceptual sid...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFirstly, I would sincerely like to thank my panel members,Matt, Vasanti and Sanjay,who have been wondreful...
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cute little ugly things-final documentation

  1. 1. CuteLittle UglyThings
  2. 2. © 2010 by Nalisha ChourariaAll Rights Reserved.No part of this cute little ugly publication may be reproducedin any form without my consent.Printed and bound atPrintoAgarwal Bhavan, 5/1,18th Cross, Malleswaram,Bangalore-560 055.Done by Nalisha ChourariaMob: +91 98867 28 924Email: nalishachouraria@gmail.com
  3. 3. DIPLOMA DOCUMENTATION done by cute little ugly Nalisha Chouraria Visual Communication DesignSrishti School of Art, Design & Technology
  4. 4. CONTENTSDesign brief 6Process 11User description 12ResearchJapan 13Interviews 21Market trends 35Workshops 38Insights & Opportunities 52OutputConcept 57Material exploration 59Ideation/prototype/user test 61Insightful resources 83Video 86Looking Back 874
  5. 5. “Ugly is a cute word.” -me 5
  6. 6. BRIEFTo create a range of unconventional toysfor children that are sick of cute to:Experiment with the nature of suchirregular toys both physically andimaginatively.To explore the difference in perceptionsamong children and adults about notionsof cute and not cute.6
  7. 7. “Many of the old children’s rhymes and fairytales arevery graphic and gruesome. In recent years, politicalcorrectness and adults who think children should be wrapped in cotton woolhave removed all the bloodand gore. But that’s the bit children liked.” -Steve M 7
  8. 8. BackgroundI noticed that children often fixated themselves Even though the new age parent knows thatto sad and morbid things. I saw them torture children like to explore this dark side, it istheir dolls, pull off wings of dragonflies, roast usually eluded by imposing on children, whatants with sparklers, torture dogs and gleefully is politically correct, cute and sugar coated.laugh. Are they being deliberately cruel? This mentality tends to influence a significant part of consumer choices for toys, whereI want to explore this violent streak in children parents pick up only what is ‘appropriate’ oras mischief not to encourage or salute such ‘cute’ for their children.behaviour, but to empathise with their naturalviolent urges and make adults aware of it. While I was part of an Interactive toy lab, all my design products for childrenDuring my initial research I came across had been termed as ‘cute’, This led me toseveral reasons for these violent tendencies in question this very attribute and break out ofchildren: it through experimentation with the ‘ugly’, the• Aggression unconventional and the irregular.• Exposure to violence through media• Exposure to violence at home Ultimately, the outcome of this project is• Curiosity meant to steer away from the mainstream and• Lack of difficulty in expressing themselves create objects that will not be made with the• Age of impulsive destruction intention of selling, nor will they be made to• Imitating impress adults, but rather for the purpose of• Not being told consequences experimenting with the nature of such irregular• Sick of cute toys both physically and imaginatively , and• Mental illness or disorder to evoke emotions and reactions in adults and children, whether of fascination or disgust.Although all the above reasons are equallyimportant, I chose to base my research on‘Sick of cute’.Today, children’s stories, toys, media andentertainment often involve concepts ofviolence, ugliness, crime and evil.8
  9. 9. Research QuestionsOften children play gruesome games or say things when adultsare out of earshot. How can I expose this side of kids so theadults become aware of this behaviour and don’t unnecessarilyforce feed kids with cute?How can I create abstract/unconventional toys that allow roomfor imagination?What adults find ‘not cute’ or repulsive maybe appealingand engaging for children, and vice versa. How can I createunconventional toys that can be used as a tool to get reactionsfor a comparative study of the perceptions of adults andchildren?What makes something cute? What makes something not cute?What kind of interactions do unconventional toys call for?How can I make adults accept and appreciate theunconventional and be open to their children’s choices? 9
  10. 10. Proposition Resources• Conduct workshops with children between • Films, documentaries the ages 5 and 7 years. • Books (example: Lord of the flies, Homo• Create unconventional toys that can be Ludens, Grimm Brothers, etc) used to get reactions. • Schools, neighborhood and child friendly• Test it on adults and children and document spaces the reactions and interactions. • Toy stores • Museums, galleries and libraryNeed Possible deliverables• More insight into the preferences of children. A collection of 10 unconventional toys for children• Parents’ awareness and understanding which will be used to generate reactions. of the recurring violent tendencies in their A video of reactions and interactions of both children. adults and children, towards the toys.• Grownups to stop unnecessarily force A video of some of the things children say and do feeding kids with cute. when they think adults are out of earshot. This will• Adults to accept and appreciate the expose another side of them. unconventional• Adults to be more open minded about their children’s choices.Approach/Process• Interviews with parents, teachers, psychologists.• A short trip to Japan.• Workshops with children.• Conducting user tests with prototypes.• Creating a collection of unconventional toys.• Testing the toys with adults and children.• Audio and visual documentation of reactions for a comparative study.10
  11. 11. PROCESSProcess Conceptual process Design process Readings/videos Ideation Japan trip Explorations Interviews Prototypes Workshops User test Insights & Opportunities Final Prototypes User test Audio/visual documentaion 11
  12. 12. USER DESCRIPTION Target Audience Age: 5-7 years Sex: boys and girls economic background: middle class and upper class This is for kids that are bored of the conventional, cute plush toys. Their mother buys them the cutest teddy bears and the puppy dogs that are fluffy and cute and colorful.but does he really like them. Why cant they play with something thats not cute or conventional and not bought based on the parent’s preferences even if it means that they may not like it or even approve of it. These toys will be tested on children and on adults to get reactions which will tell me about the disparity in their perceptions.12
  13. 13. JAPANDuring the last week of July, I made a trip to Tokyo, Japan.I wanted to go to Japan for it’s Kawaii* culture and bizarre toys.But when I got there, I was surprised and in awe of what I saw.I was surprised at how much ‘cute’ I saw around me. In Japan,people of all ages and genders are obsessed with cuteness.It’s everywhere. While riding the subway, a businessman in asuit holding a cell phone with a Snoopy charm dangling fromit, or girls carrying bags and cell phones with a chunk of toysand charms weighing it down, boys wearing shorts with aHello Kitty print on it, to the cartoon characters painted on thesides of trains to the adults who bury their noses in comic bookswhile riding the subway is a common sight. Their flyers, posters,packaging, everything has a cartoon character on it.Cuteness seems to be a highly valued aesthetic quality inJapanese society. It is used to sell absolutely everything there.Hello Kitty is a symbol of Kawaii in Japan. There’s Hello Kitty’simage stamped on everything from stationary to electronics totoilet paper. You can buy Hello Kitty candy, Hello Kitty clothing,Hello Kitty school supplies, Hello Kitty alarm clocks, Hello Kittyguitar picks, Hello Kitty soap dispensers and what not.I spent an evening in a toy store in Harajuku called Kiddylandwhere I nearly overdosed on cute. It was like walking througha cartoon world. All that was missing were sparkling rainbows,dancing unicorns and a basket of fluffy kittens. 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15. Most stores were shrines to cuteness but long with the pink fluff andcuteness, I found some bizarre toys. Some were sort of ugly, somedisturbing with blood oozing out, or something with a knife stuckin it. There were Chucky dolls, Gloomy bear, which is a violentpink bear that eats humans, that stood out amongst all the cuteness.There was a whole rack of gloomy bear toys and merchandisewhich seemed like an antithesis to the Hello Kitty products. 15
  16. 16. During my first week in Tokyo, I got the opportunity to visitmuseums, art galleries, toy stores and libraries there. They were allwonderfully inspiring.• Kawaii culture - Cuteness is a major marketing tool in the Japanese culture• Hello Kitty is a symbol of Kawaii in Japan.• Cuteness is a highly valued aesthetic quality in Japan, irrespective of age, gender.*Kawaii is a Japanese term meaning ‘cuteness’. Since the 1970s it hasbecome a prominent aspect of the Japanese. It is accepted as a part of theirculture and national identity.16
  17. 17. 17
  18. 18. This is Kewpie. It’s a doll I bought from Japan. These babies are sold in packets by the dozen. I was intrigued by its peculiarity, and asked why they were naked. In broken English they told me, ’you buy Kewpie, you make clothes’. I asked some adults here, what they thought of it, they found it repulsive. Some said the face was cute but the body was not; and that kids would not play with it. Whereas, kids called it cute and played with it normally. This is what made me look at notions of ‘cute’ and ‘not cute’ of adults and children. I have used these dolls in some of my workshops.18
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20. “I know a lot of parents who don’t know what’s been happening at school and are later shocked to find out what their child has been up to.” -Radhika .S. Dcosta20
  21. 21. RADHIKA .S. DCOSTA CouncellorSometimes, violence in kids can be explained, for them-they have come from play schoolssometimes it cannot be explained. This to structured schools which demands them tounexplainable violence goes on from prep be extremely disciplined (sit straight, walk inschool until the 3rd standard (4-8 yrs old) a straight line, etc). That doesn’t make thembecause that’s when they begin to understand violent but just adds up. Emotions pile up.their actions.When it can be explained, that’s because: A lot of parents don’t know what’s happening• Exposure to violence through media. at school and are later shocked to find out• Exposure to violence at home. what their child has been up to. They maybe• Inconsistency in disciplining or act differently in school and differently at home reinforcements. where they may be trying to get attention from• Not enough time and love for the child. parents.• Difficulty in expressing themselves• Imitating Kids are too much under the adult scanner.• Mental condition. When kids do something it becomes a big deal but we as adults also act violently to ventFocus needs to be shifted from violence for out our frustrations. We are also using objectsfun and just to be cute to what is it really to extend our emotions. But we have reachedshowing us. People say ‘oh he must have seen a point where we don’t slap one and anotherit somewhere’ or ‘oh how naughty and cute’. but that is only because we have been toldUnless this is stopped early on, it can turn into right from wrong. Sometimes they are violent tosomething criminal and serious. Beyond 9 yrs protect themselves.they are able to think about their actions, butages below that not all are able to understand. Tom and Jerry is a great example of violence because it’s all about beating up and gettingEven between ages 5 and 7, some may get up again unhurt, there’s no appreciation andit and not repeat it again, whereas some understanding of hurting someone.genuinely don’t get it. It has a lot to do withthe developmental context your placing the “We don’t watch what we say all the time. I lovechild in. 5-7 years, is a yr of major transition you so much I want to squash u, you’re so cute I 21
  22. 22. want to eat you, if u do this, this will happen, etc.” When dealing with kids, asking them what WE did rather than what YOU did and pointingWhen talking to kids about their problems, fingers at them, is advisable.Role play is extremely useful. Reading stories It is better to use small words and come downto them to explain scenarios, talk about the to their level.problems in the story and asking them howthey would deal with it will let one know what Reading up on the ethics to work with childrenlevel they are at. will also help.With younger kids, drawing is effective. Askingthem to draw about their day, and asking themquestions is a good idea. Whereas, olderkids relate to writing better rather than openlytalking about it.When asking them what makes them angry,Introducing a puppet helps. Also play changeswhen the child is by himself and with others.Also, when a child knows he’s being watched,his behaviour changes drastically. Whenlooking at an issue related to home. Givingthem a picture of a house and asking themto draw the people in the house and askingquestions is an effective way.Before giving kids a doll and tools like scissors andpins to play with it, a written parental consent isrequired. Also don’t make it an equal ratio of thesafe and unsafe things. Also, before giving kidsnaked dolls, parental consent is advisable as theymight go home and ask questions.22
  23. 23. “Out of curiousity, many kids will put their most beloved mouse in the microwave, or catch something and cut it to see it bleed or pinch a baby to see it cry.” -Kalpana 23
  24. 24. KALPANA CouncellorWhenever we talk to small children, we say an and made of chemicals ,whereas, there they areelaborate sugar coated “hiiii” but when an adult playing with pure, fresh, clean blood. So it’s also awalks in you say “hi, how are you” in a very matter of perspective and culture.normal tone. The change becomes idiotic. What we are calling violence today, two hundredIn the year 1984, Kalpana was in Mattel’s years ago everyone would have looked and saidQualitative Market Research team when they ‘what a strong girl, she’ll grow up to be a warrior’.introduced Barbie into the market. It was seen at So now that same energy is made into somethingthe time, that the mothers were more excited about negative.the Barbie than the kids. Many parents bought theBarbie and put it up in their showcase. In life we all need an exit, we all find a way to vent out in some safe way. Violence is an outcomeThere were debates about how the blonde Barbie but there’s an energy which creates the violence.won’t be liked by children because they had to be Now that energy needs to come out. So, the childable to identify with it. So they had a black haired can make that energy come out in many ways-Barbie, which nobody touched and everyone went tantrums and scream and shout for simple things.for the blonde haired Barbie. Then, there was also We suppress violence so much that they gothe nudity issue about her having boobs, but that underground and come up in some other way.was a universal issue not just an Indian issue. This needs to come out in a safe and containedShe took a Barbie home to her 2 sons, since manner.they’ve never had a doll. They took the Barbieand thrashed it around. They used it as a tool forwhacking. That was a violent act to watch.She was once talking to a lady from an easterncountry, who said that kids there watched thebutchers slaughter cows, and even playedwith the blood. Looking at Kalpana’s shockedexpression, she said, in Holi don’t your childrenplay with colour? infact the Holi colour is toxic24
  25. 25. “I look for cute cute toys. Kids like all stuffed toys because they are cute,soft and colourful. I can’tdescribe cute but when Igo to the toy store, I find teddy bears really cute.” - Archana 25
  26. 26. ARCHANA House wife and mother of 6 year old TanushArchana is a housewife, and her husband is a She looks for ‘cute cute’ toys. Kids love brightbanker. Her family was living in Pune until her colours. Her son loves red. Every time shehusband got transferred to Bangalore. wears something red, he compliments her. She says kids like all stuffed toys because they areTanush goes to Florence Public School. She cute and soft and colourful. The way somethingsays she hates the concept of play homes. looks plays a very important role. She findsShe had sent her son to a play home once but teddy bears really cute.stopped it halfway. He is afraid of darkness She says kids these days ask so many questionsbecause of something he experienced at a about the things they watch on TV, things theyplay home. He must have done something see or hear. Even Barbie is a grownup doll,naughty, so they locked him in a dark room as so questions arise. Tanush asks about Barbie’sa punishment. body structure or about death, to which she quickly diverts his mind or tells a story.He likes playing with cars, trains, planesmostly. He also plays with dolls sometimes.Before, she used to look for toys to buy forhim but now she has to buy whatever heasks for. According to her, kids are becomingdemanding now, and media plays a big rolein influencing them. Tanush usually wantswhatever he watches on TV- expensive Ben10 and power ranger toys. But she doesn’t seethe point in buying such toys as she prefersgames like Ludo, chess, Scrabble, and otherindoor games. She look at budget too. Shesays that the toys she buys don’t last too long.He opens up the cars out of curiosity. The moretechnology a toy involves the shorter time itlasts for. Most toys came as gifts.26
  27. 27. “My son asks for toys hesees on tv, especially theones like Ben 10, etc. butonce i explain to him, hedoes understand, at least in the long run that theones I choose are better.” -Anuradha 27
  28. 28. ANURADHA SHANKAR Freelance writer and mother of 7 year old SamhithAnuradha has done her Masters in Physics She says, very often she sees a morbid side ofand wanted to be a scientist but after she got Samhith. When they talk about stories together,married and had Samhith, her plans changed. he always thinks of someone dying or fallingShe is now a freelance writer. or killing. Even in stories which she tell him, the parts which strike a chord are the morbid ones.Anuradha says most toys don’t hold Samhith’s She says she is usually cool with it, but thatinterest for long, but those that still attract him after a while she gets irritated. If she happensare blocks and trains. She says they have a to be a in a patient mood, she tries to divert hiswonderful Thomas the tank engine set where mood and try to shift it to something nicer orthey set the tracks in different ways each time more dramatic, but then there are times whenand that her son loves it.  she completely loses her cool.She usually buys toys that he can use for a long But this doesn’t really surprise her all the timetime, and which triggers some creativity. She’s because she feels that there is somethingnot not much into board games, but has quite about death and afterlife, something rathera few. Although, her son mostly asks for toys dramatic about such morbid scenes whichhe sees advertised on TV, especially the ones tends to attract kids who are inherentlylike Ben 10, but once she explains it to him, curious by nature. She says that althoughhe understands that the ones she choose are death is something that doesn’t have an easybetter. explanation, it is something she doesn’t believe  in keeping kids away from. This is an openCute doesn’t really an important criteria while topic which can never be answered clearly,buying toys unless she’s looking at some according to her.wooden toys like those used in olden days, likea wooden cart and a top she recently boughtfor her son which she would call cute but hewouldn’t. The cute factor counts when she’slooking at stuffed toys too. She said Samhithowns a really cute Winnie the pooh stuffed toy.28
  29. 29. “A friend had taken his 4 year old daughter to a party, where she was smothered with compliments - “oooh, you’re so cute, what anadorable little girl you are”. By the end of the party she was replying to the compliments saying shewas a “scary, dangerous monster”. The dark side had to come out to counteract all of the annoying sweetness.” -Joel Henriquez 29
  30. 30. JOEL HENRIQUEZ Toy maker and father of 4 year old twin boy and girlJoel’s daughter loves to paint. And his son If the toy looks happy and content, then it’smostly plays with Lego. Right now, they do usually cute. If it looks angry, then it’s not cute.these activities about 90% of the time. The Sometimes they like to draw “scary things withother 10% is filled with reading books and teeth”. Also they play with dolls or puppets andplaying with other toys. sometimes the puppets fall and hurt themselves or even have their “lifetime be over.”So he mostly buys Lego and Paints, and makesmost of their toys himself. At this age kids are trying to figure out what death means and they find it fascinating andWhen making toys for them, he keeps things mysterious. They also seem to like to try andsimple, so that they have different options overcome their fears of scary things. If he readsfor how they can play with them. He tries to a book that has a scary monster, like “Wheredesign toys that lets them express themselves the Wild Things Are”, then his son wants himcreatively. to draw the monster on paper. He loves the drawings and they somehow make the monsterCute does play an important factor in his seem more pretend, because they just made itchoice of toys for them. He recycles a lot of old with paper and pen. Also, he wanted to readfabrics and clothes and turns them into stuffed the book in the first place. Joel says he doesn’tanimals and dolls. His daughter likes cute, force any scary books on them, or let themwhereas his son sometimes likes scary. read anything that he finds inappropriate. He keeps a level voice of reason and explain things logically if they have questions. It’s normal for kids to have a dark side.30
  31. 31. “Their dolls are always dying, getting lost or separated from theirmothers, drastic accidentshappen, with limbs hurt or deformed. “ -Chitra Vishwanathan 31
  32. 32. CHITRA VISHWANATH Teacher and mother of 12 year old Rishab, 7 year old RheaChitra teaches advertising at Wigan & Leigh 11 years were all sitting there in their festivecollege. Her husband owns an advertising attire, and watching this with gaping eyes.agency. The young ones who were seeing this the first time sat there wide eyed, watching intently.Rishab likes planes and helicopters but is out Whereas, the older ones seemed like theyof buying toys or wanting toys. Whereas Rhea were accustomed to the sight. While some kidslikes everything soft, pink, girly, cute. She also watched, others jumped and played betweenenjoys intelligent games likes PIRANA PANIC, pools of blood!”PICTURICA, monopoly, Uno, etc.  Although, this doesn’t really surprise her. InfactWhen buying toys for Rhea, she going by she plays along saying, “oh so sad, let’s put alatest ads on TV and buys more of activity/craft band aid”, and usually just responds to theirled toys. script. Cute isn’t always an important factor for Chitra says she’s always saying weird thingsbuying toys, except when she’s buying stuffed to the kids like “I’ll gorge your eyes out if youtoys. BOLT and some stuffed toys are cute, watch so much TV, I’ll chop off your fingers ifwhereas Barbie is not cute. you bite your nails, I’ll cut off your feet, etc.”She says her children can be quite morbidat times. Rishab likes to kill. For example, hewanted to terrorise the neighbourhood duringdiwali-” terror attacks”.“I was in Bombay during Id. I was looking outthe window, and I saw an empty garage wherethere was a butcher standing and slaughteringgoats and sending it up to the houses. Infront of him, there were rows of chairs placedwhere little children between the ages 2 and32
  33. 33. “Soft toys or stuffeddolls come in the cute category.” -Deepa Shah 33
  34. 34. DEEPA SHAH Graphic designer and mother of 4 year old twin boys, Arjun and AryanDeepa’s kids like to play with their scooter,tennis rackets, ball, lego, bubbles, bedsheets,keys, pillows, and things around the house(which are not really meant for playing).She says she sometimes ends up buying‘nonsense’ at times, like ben 10 characters butotherwise its water guns, bubble solution andaccessories, sporty stuff like rackets, ball, rollerskates etc.Cute doesn’t play an important factor in herchoice of toys for them.Soft toys or stuffed dolls come in the cutecategory.Sometimes both of them fight over a toy, attimes there are anger bursts - yelling, shouting,throwing toys. But this is normal as its part ofgrowing up and eventually they learn to share& learn that they exist with others in this world.When this happens, they are repeatedly toldthat what they do is not acceptable.34
  35. 35. MARKET TRENDS‘All the toys one sees are essentially microcosms of the adult world. They are all reducedcopies of human objects, as if in the eyes of the public the child was, all told, nothing buta smaller man, a homunculus to whom objects must be supplied of it’s own size. They aremeant to produce children who are users, not creators.’Toys, Roland BarthesAcross time and cultures humans have interacted with aestheticand functional objects called toys.Toys are among a child’s first possessions. Early experienceswith toys can have lasting effects on a child. Toys are afacilitator of play. Play is the main function of toys.Although, toys serve multiple purposes, they provide entertainingand most of the times educational too. Toys enhance cognitivebehaviour and stimulate creativity. They aid in the developmentof physical and mental skills of children which are necessarylater in life.There has been much debate about which toys are the bestfor children. Some argue that high-tech toys provide the besteducational opportunities, while others say that simpler toysthat require imagination and creativity teach a child to think forhimself. But most children end up with a mixture of both types oftoys andperhaps that approach gives them the best of both worlds. 35
  36. 36. Types of playMotor/Physical Play Constructive PlayMotor play allows for development of bothindividual gross and fine muscle strength and Constructive play is when children manipulateoverall integration of muscles, nerves, and their environment to create things. ie-buildingbrain functions. Recent research has confirmed towers with blocks, playing in the sand.the critical link between stimulating activity Constructive play allows children to experimentand brain development. Young children must with objects; find out combinations that workhave ample opportunities to develop physically, and don’t work; and learn basic knowledgeand motor play instils this disposition toward about stacking, building, drawing, makingphysical activity in young children. music and constructing. It also gives children a sense of accomplishment and empowers them with control of their environment. ChildrenSocial Play who are comfortable manipulating objects and materials also become good at manipulatingA variety of opportunities for children to words, ideas and concepts.engage in social play are the best mechanismsfor progressing through the different socialstages. By interacting with others in play Fantasy Playsettings, children learn social rules such as,give and take, reciprocity, cooperation, and Children learn to abstract, to try out new rolessharing. Through a range of interactions with and possible situations, and to experiment withchildren at different social stages, children language and emotions with fantasy play. Inalso learn to use moral reasoning to develop addition, children develop flexible thinking;a mature sense of values. To be prepared to learn to create beyond the here and now;function effectively in the adult world, children stretch their imaginations, use new words andneed to participate in lots of social situations. word combinations in a risk-free environment, and use numbers and words to express ideas, concepts, dreams, and histories.36
  37. 37. Games With RulesDevelopmentally, most children progressfrom an egocentric view of the world to anunderstanding of the importance of socialcontracts and rules. Part of this developmentoccurs as they learn that games like Followthe Leader, Simon Says, and other games thatcannot function without everyone adhering tothe same set of rules. The “games with rules”concept teaches children a critically importantconcept - the game of life has rules (laws) thatwe all must follow to function productively.There are several categories of toysavailable in the market today• Action figures/dolls• Creative toys• Construction toys• Electronics• Educational toys• Games/puzzles• Outdoor games/sports• Plush• VehiclesInspite of the availability of so many types oftoys for children in the market, ultimately it isthe adult’s decision of which toy to buy fortheir child. While the end user is the child, themother is the decision-maker and the fatherholds the financial strings. 37
  38. 38. WORKSHOPSWorkshop 1This workshop was a 1 hour workshop and make it special or give it super powers.conducted with 8 prep school kids of MAIS. With this activity, I’m allowing a different kindThey were 5 years old. Of the 8 kids, 4 were of interaction with the doll by giving the kidsgirls and 4 were boys. a choice of the tools/material they can use to play with the doll. The abstract toy is givingArt workshop: During this workshop I made a them space for imagination and creativity.few formless toys out of fabric and filled them This will help me understand their choices,with sand. Along with these, I also left a few interactions and give me an insight into theirdolls I bought from the market. I provided them imagination.with art supplies and asked them to pick a toy38
  39. 39. Aim:• How do kids relate to toys that lack facial One girl was painting the Kewpie doll red all features or a definite form? over. Instantly, the boys started talking about• To what extent does the interaction with the ‘bleeding baby’. One of the boys made a the toys change when given tools with it? long sword and attacked the doll and said,” I• How they react to the tactile aspect of the attacked your baby”. She looked up and said toy?(heavy sand instead of lightweight soft it was Spiderman. filling)• Some adults found the naked baby doll One made a volcano that spews out babies. strange and repulsive. Will kids find it repulsive too? There were some who made rangoli, a puppy named biscuit, and a watch.Outcomes: I also noticed that when one of them spoke about his toy, it would most often influence theWhen I told the kids they could do anything others’ description of their own work.they wanted with the toy, immediately one ofthe girls asked ‘can we cut it?’! Mostly it was the girls who picked up the Kewpie doll. 5 kids (4 girls and 1 boy) picked it up.Most of what they talked about or made hadto do with death and poison and monsters. What was really interesting is that even thoughMostly this was the case with the boys but there adults found the ‘kewpie doll’ repulsive duringwere exceptions amongst the girls too. the workshop, about 5 kids (4 girls + 1 boy) picked them up and used it in their activity. ThisOne girls made a poisonous cake. Almost made me think about perception a lot more.everything she made or talked about happened Adults and children have different perceptionsto be about poison or death. She told me that if of cute and ugly.I touched it my hand would either get burnt ordisappear, and if I ate it I’d die. Then the other kidsheard this and elaborated on the topic of death. 39
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  41. 41. Clockwise:Poisonous cake.“If you touch it, your hand will getburnt. If you eat it you’ll be dead.One time, my grandfather ate clayand he dead.”Spiderman.“It’s bleeding a blood everywhere”.Volcano.It’s a volcano that spews outbabies.Superhero.It’s wrapped up in bandage. 41
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  44. 44. Workshop 2Cute/Not cuteThis was a 40 minutes workshop conducted During the next half hour, the kids were askedwith class 1 kids of MAIS. There were 30 to draw. I asked them to divide the page intostudents in class. They were 6 years old. 2, one side for ‘cute’ and the other side for ‘notDrawing workshop – During the first 10 cute’.minutes of the workshop, I had a discussionwith the children about ‘cute’.44
  45. 45. Aim• Do kids this young have an understanding 6. What’s not cute? of what is cute and what is not cute? A leaf• Do they like cute? Rashes• What do they find cute? What do they A pig find not cute? A girl A crocodileOutcomes Something that’s not chubby. Monsters - because they are ugly.1. What’s the meaning of cute? Eagles - they don’t have chubby cheeks.Something that has chubby cheeks Ghosts - they don’t smile at you.Something that’s very small and cute and all A Spider is not cute, its handsome.Something that looks nice and it’s pretty Lions are scary. Bald eagles and Dinosaur’s are scary.2. Has anyone called you cute? Worms - they are slimy and smelly.Ya A tree - the leaves fall down and then only the branches.3.Do you like it? Clowns - I cry whenever I see a clown. When INo see the red nose I feel it’s bleeding. My mom is not cute. I hate my mom. She keeps4. Why? kissing me all the time. She kisses me everyBecause I’m not cute. day and she doesn’t even stop.Because I feel shyBecause I’m not a baby 7. What’s the opposite of cute? Stute (pronounced ‘Styoot’)5. What’s cute? Not cuteA tiger is cuteSnakes are really cute. I held a snake onceKitten is cute because it has chubby cheeks.Dolphins are cute because they smile at you. 45
  46. 46. Workshop 3This was a 40 minutes workshop conducted 7. Can slide into the TV and meet Mickey andwith class 1 kids of MAIS. They were around 6 Minnie.years old.Drawing workshop – The children were asked 8. TV can give me whatever I want.to draw 1 toy they wish they had. The best toyever.. 9. I have a tree house which has a spell- whenever parents come there they have toAim listen to whatever I say.To find out what they look for in a toy, what 10. A volcano that creates lava that I canthey want from a toy. touch.Outcomes 11. A flying carpet-I like to fly.1. Toy that gives me 3 wishes (Candy world, 12. A magic kite that goes wherever I ask it toCharacters come to life, Go to space  go.anytime). 13. Magical dressing table- when I press a2. My toy can make me whatever I want. button the fairy/wand comes and dresses me up and takes me wherever I go.3. A cool car that shrinks so small it can fit inmy pocket. 14. A toy that makes wands-the wand turns all people who use bad words into a frog.4. A jersey that will make me win all the time.5. When I play a game on my PS, it shouldcome out and give me a prize.6. A sword that can turn into a rocket and cutpeople.46
  47. 47. IMAGE CHILD’S DRAWING 47
  48. 48. Workshop 4I placed 3 dolls in sand, half buried hoping children will find itwhile playing. 2 were Kewpies that I had bought from Japan,the other one was a doll that I had bought from a local marketplace.Aim:• Adults found the Kewpie doll repulsive. Will the kids feel the same?• To see how the interaction with a toy changes when played in a different environment. When a toy that is essentially meant for indoor spaces, is brought out into the outdoor. (how does the context change the meaning and interactivity with the toy)• To see how they interact with the dolls both alone and with company• If their interactions/behaviour changes when there are no adults around.48
  49. 49. Outcomes:1. Kids would immediately bury it.2. A group of kids made a mountain of sand and placed thedoll on top. They were either worshiping it or sacrificing it. Butthen they started singing, ‘happy birthday to dear doll, happybirthday to you’:) But the doll looked more like a candle on itsown cake. After singing to the doll, they stepped on it, jumpedon it and trampled all over the mountain.3. A little boy who must have been 3 years old, stepped on aKewpie doll by mistake and immediately said sorry to it andwalked away.4. There were kids that threw the doll out of the sand pit andnever looked at it again.5. 1 girl buried the dolls and carefully brushed away sand off ofits face and said ‘look I found a fossil’.6. One girl found the doll(the girl doll)and didn’t want to playwith it because she thought it was ugly and her hair was fallingunlike Barbie’s hair. But she used the doll’s legs to draw in sand.7. 2 girls buried the dolls secretly so they cud come back thenext day and play with it. And threatened a little girl who sawthem burying it there, saying, ‘If you dare touch it, I’ll say toyour mother’.But the predominant interaction was to bury the dolls in sand. 49
  50. 50. Kewpie doll and a doll from a local toy shop burried in sand at a children’s park for an experiment.50
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  52. 52. INSIGHTSFrom Parents• Very few toys keep children engaged for long.• Children are heavily influenced by the media.• Technology creates curiosity.• Cute is an important factor when buying stuffed toys.• Children have a fascination for morbid.• Some adults find this violent behaviour/ morbidity of children shocking.• Some parents say scary things to frighten From Psychologist/Councilllor their children.• Girls are stereotyped with cute, whereas • Most parents don’t know about children’s boys with scary/violence. violent tendencies.• Kids don’t like an overdose of sweetness/ • Play changes when the kids is alone or cuteness. playing with others.• Creative toys are popular among parents. • They have little or no appreciation and• Adult’s perception of cute differs from that understanding of hurting someone. of the child’s. • People tend to unnecessarily talk down to• Even though children are the users, parents children. make the decisions about the toys they get • Over years violence has been turned into to play with. something negative. • Violence needs to come out in a safe and contained manner rather than suppressing it. • Children are free of preconceived notions of beauty/ugliness to a greater extent, compared to adults.52
  53. 53. From Workshops• Cuteness is mainly associated with physical attributes, mostly to that of a baby.• Children don’t like an overdose of sweetness.• Something they like can be ‘not cute’.• They all wanted a toy that would give them a sense of power.• Boys especially are more descriptive of violence.• Adults and children have different perceptions of cute and ugly.• Children often say things when adults are out of earshot.• Children don’t understand the seriousness of death.• Kids have a violent, dark side to them. 53
  54. 54. OPPORTUNITIESHow can I create something for childrenthat are sick of cute?How can I create toys that areengaging?How can I create play objects thatcreate curiosity without the use oftechnology?How can I expose children’s dark side How can play objects be made sexlessso adults stop force feeding them with and not gender specific?cute? How can I create play objects that allowHow can I make play objects that allow violent tendencies in children to comefor imagination and creativity? out in a safe and contained manner rather than being suppressed?How can I make parents more opentowards their children’s choices? How can I create objects to explore the difference in perceptions among children and adults about notions of ugliness, beauty, gore, violence, cuteness and so on? How can I create something not cute from both physical and experiental espects? Can I create something that gives children a sense of power and control?54
  55. 55. EXPERIMENTExperiment:At one point of time, I wanted to to break out of the stereotypicalway of interacting with existing toys to derive a new meaningfrom it. A cute toy can be scary by just the context you put it in,by the way you interact with it.I wanted to do this using:Different camera anglesDifferent types of interactionsLightingPost production techniquesThis idea was later dismissed because:There was no need for it.I was told that it would be better if I tried it with the toys I createrather than using existing toys.This might be too ambiguous for the viewers. 55
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  57. 57. CONCEPTTo create a set of unconventional/irregular/not cute stuffed toysto experiment with the nature of the toys both physically andimaginatively, and to allow children the space for imagination andexperience. These will be tested with children and adults to getresponses to evaluate the difference in both their perceptions.During my research, a common pattern I noticed among typicalplush toys, were that they have soft fur and a ‘sweet little face’, andwere comforting to hug and cuddle.On the contrary, many early stuffed animals were actual animalskins; much like what would be used in taxidermy, which may beunacceptable as toys for children today. This was fascinating to me.Just because something is repulsive to some adults, doesn’t meanchildren will feel the same way about it. In fact they may find it cute,fun and engaging.With this insight, I created a range of toys through which I haveexperimented with unusual shapes/forms/material/weight and withthe experiential aspect of the toys.My toys conflict with stereotypical toys available in the Indianmarkets today. Even though these toys are not made with theintention of selling, these could be sold in the future in theunconventional toy markets. 57
  58. 58. What’s my project?Im creating unconventional, ‘not cute’ toys for What is the purpose behind doing this5-7 year old children that are sick of cute project?I am looking at the conceptual use of toys. To step out of my comfort zone, andWhat’s the purpose behind creating these experiment.toys? If not now, then when.I want to see how children respond to thenature of such irregular toys both physically To understand beauty/ cute better, it isand imaginatively. necessary to study it’s opposites.To evoke emotions and reactions in adults andchildren, whether of fascination or disgust, toexplore the difference in perceptions amongchildren and adults about notions of ugliness,beauty, cuteness.Why ugly toys?While I was part of an Interactive toy lab,all my design products for children had beentermed as ‘cute’, This led me to questionthis very attribute and break out of it andexperiment with the ‘ugly’, the unconventionaland the irregular.Where do they belong?They are made for the purpose ofexperimenting but could be sold in future inunconventional toy stores.58
  59. 59. MATERIAL EXPLORATIONI looked at different types of material for the exterior and for the filling - cottonscraps, cotton, sand/stones, slime, color changing fabric, fur, mats, leather,rope, felt. charcoal/pencil points 59
  60. 60. Moodboard Many early stuffed animals were actual animal skins; much like what would be used in taxidermy. This was facinating to me. I was inspired by natural forms and textures.60
  61. 61. Toy 1Sketches:Prototype: 61
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  63. 63. User testAdults: Children:• Gross. • Some kids immediately smelled it.• They associated the fur to a rat. • One said it was a piano.• The weight made it feel like a real animal- • Some thought it was cute especially a dead one. because it was fluffy.• Some determined the head and the rear • One girl was a little creeped out and based on the direction of the fur. cringed but she later touched it and said• It was creepy because it lacked facial it was soft. features. • One thought it was a little heavy.• One wondered how it would look and feel • Some shook it up to see the legs dangle. when it’s wet. • catterpillar• They thought it looked like a hybrid of a centipede, a rat and a cow - the legs looked like udders.• Some associated the pink part to a sexual organ.• A mother said it was incomplete and that it needed facial features and not more than 4 legs.• It needs to be colorful,light and cute. 63
  64. 64. Toy 2Sketches:Prototype:64
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  66. 66. User testAdults: Children:• The color is dull. Kids won’t like it be- • One girl kept cuddling and cradling it, cause they like bright colors and happy and didnt want anyone to touch it. She things. said she liked it.• It’s incomplete • Even the boys cradled it. One sang• It needs eyes and nose rock-a-by-baby it it.• Its scary because of the teeth, the color • One boy kissed it. and because it’s so rigid. • Some kids called it a ‘boxing bag’• One thought it was really sweet looking. and punched it. They also used it as a• It’s heavy weight for weight lifting.• It doesn’t do anything. • One girl noticed that it didnt have eyes,• I cant look at it. I have a phobia of holes(the mouth) and said she liked it better like that.• Anything without eyes is creepy. • Most kids fiddled with the teeth-closed it and opened it, and poked the mouth.66
  67. 67. Toy 3Sketches:Prototype: 67
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  69. 69. User testAdults: Children:• So many eyes make it a litltle scary. • I like the smell. It smells like strawberry.• Looks like a monster. • The boys used it like a punching bag.• I can use it to scare my kids. • Are these real eyes?whose eyes are• I dont like it. these?• Its heavy. • Others thought it smelled bad. 69
  70. 70. Toy 4Sketches:Prototype:70
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  72. 72. User testAdults: Children:• One of the teachers was disgusted by • Due to the long length, there was alot the mouth and refused to look at it or of tugging and pulling. even touch it. • They immediately put their hand inside• They thought it was like the trunk of an the mouth. elephant. • Some used it as a scarf.• They put their hand in -some thought it • Boys even used it as a weight for was nice but some were disgusted by it. weight lifting.• Some thought it could be used to hurt • On the whole, they really seemed to people. enjoy it.• The Manager of Saphire Toys thought it • The weight didn’t bother them. was really heavy so kids wouldn’t want to carry it around. He thought it looked like • They squeezed the part with the sand, a sea animal, and also incomplete. and turned the tale again and again to let the sand flow from one end to another.72
  73. 73. Toy 5Sketches:Prototype: 73
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  75. 75. User testAdults: Children:• One thought it was gross because they • When they first saw it, they got a little looked like mamary glands of an animal, scared but then enjoyed playing with it. with multiple animals to feed. • The boys loved the horns.• The fur felt and looked like that of a real • One boy held 2 horns and pretended like animal. he was getting electricuted.• They looked for the face. • A boy called it a ‘chicken hog’.• They said the colour, the form, the horns, • A girl thought it was a real chicken and everything made it gross. asked me to take it away. • One boy cuddled it and pretended to eat it. • They put it on their heads like a head gear. 75
  76. 76. Toy 6Sketches:Prototype:76
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  78. 78. Toy 7Sketches:Prototype:78
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  80. 80. UMESH Manager of Sapphire toy store, BangaloreI met with the manager of Sapphire toys to get Lots of people buy stuffed toys – mostly teddiesfeedback on the toys I had made and to see and bunnies and puppies. They are cute.how they would do if they were to be sold in aconventional toys store like Sapphire. Very limited group of people might buy theseHere’s what he had to say: toys. These won’t fetch good business.These toys don’t do anything. You could People will wonder what these are when theyconsider using electronics. find it on the shelf.The weight is too much for a child to handle. Hundreds of people will look at it and touch itThey wouldn’t want to carry it around. in a day out of curiosity but it wouldn’t sell.The beauty is what attracts. These toys don’t Tomorrow a child may touch it and just let ithave any beauty at all. go.They are incomplete. It’s got teeth but no noseor eyes or any indication as to what it is.A toy should convey a message or have ameaning or must enhance a child’s thinking.Parents will only buy something that is creativeand will help the child to develop.80
  81. 81. MORE ITERATIONS 81
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  83. 83. INSIGHTFUL RESOURCESAlbert Bandura - Bobo Doll Experiment James Bulger Murder Case(video) (article)This experiment was conducted by Albert This was a shocking article wherein JamesBandura in 1961 and studied patterns of Patrick Bulger, a two-year-old boy frombehaviour associated with aggression. The England, was abducted, tortured and murderedexperiment proved that aggression can be by two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompsonexplained, at least partially, by social learning and Jon Venables. Bulger disappeared ontheory which states that behaviour such as 12 February 1993. His mutilated body wasaggression is learned through observing and later found on a railway line.Thompson andimitating others. Venables were found guilty of the murder of Bulger making them the youngest convictedHuman Conditioning - Little Albert murderers in modern English history.(video)This experiment showed evidence of classical Lord of the Flies by William Goldingconditioning in humans. It was conducted in (novel)1920 by John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner. This was a gruesomely fascinating book.Watson wanted to prove that the reaction of A group of British schoolboys, all underchildren, whenever they heard loud noises, thirteen years of age, were stranded on awas prompted by fear. According to him, this deserted island and are suddenly free fromfear was innate or due to an unconditioned adult domination. The boys struggle with theresponse. conflicting human instincts that exist within each of them—the instinct to work towardHomo Ludens by Johan Huizinga civilization and order and the instinct to(book) descend into savagery, violence, and chaos.It is a study of the play element in humanculture.Toys by Roland Barthes(reading)Barthes analyses the denotation andconnotation of children’s playthings. 83
  84. 84. CUTECuteness is a kind of attractive beauty commonly associatedwith youth, innocence and helplessness, as well as a scientificconcept and analytical model in Ethology, first introducedby Konrad Lorenz. This is usually characterized by somecombination of infant-like physical traits, especially small bodysize with a disproportionately big head, large eyes, a smallnose, dimples, and round and softer body features. Infantilepersonality traits, such as playfulness, fragility, helplessness,curiosity, innocence, affectionate behaviour and a need to benurtured are also generally considered cute.Psychology of cutenessKonrad Lorenz argued in 1949 that infantile features triggerednurturing responses in adults.Lorenz argued that humans prefer animals which exhibitpedomorphosis. Pedomorphosis is the retention of childlikecharacteristics—such as big heads or large eyes—intoadulthood. The widely perceived cuteness of domesticatedanimals, such as dogs and cats, may be due to the fact thathumans selectively breed their pets for infant-like characteristics,including non-aggressive behaviour and child-like appearance.It has been shown that human adults react positively to infantswho are stereotypically cute. Studies have also shown thatresponses to cuteness—and to facial attractiveness generallyseem to be similar across and within cultures.84
  85. 85. Additionally, the phenomenon is not restricted to humans. Theyoung of many mammal and bird species share a similar setof typical physical proportions, beyond absolute body size,that distinguish them from adults of their own species. “Cute”features were also described in the recent finding of a babyTriceratops skull, suggesting that cuteness is an ancient anduseful survival technique.Cultural significanceCuteness is a major marketing tool in many cultures, such as thatof Japan. This explains overwhelming international success ofJapanese exports like Pokémon or Hello Kitty. It can be a factorin live action productions such as the successful documentaryfilm, March of the Penguins, where the intense cuteness of thepenguins was cited as a major reason for the film’s outstandingappeal.Stephen Jay Gould remarked on this phenomenon in an articlefor the journal Natural History, in which he pointed out thatover time Mickey Mouse had been drawn more and more toresemble an infant—with bigger head, bigger eyes, and soforth. Gould suggested that this change in Mickey’s image wasintended to increase his popularity by making him appear cuter.Cuteness has often been associated with names and peoplehave been represented to through those names by denotingthem with a nickname, as an example, cute figures such asWinnie the Pooh, an adorable cartoon, can often be takenin as a nickname such as Winnie. This nickname representsinnocence and cuteness and is often interpreted by others in avery positive manner. 85
  86. 86. VIDEOThe toys are tools to get reactions from adults and children, whichwill help me understand the difference in their perceptions of cute/not cute/ugly.The toys were tested with several people in different ways:Survey approach: The toy was shown and they were asked fortheir opinions about it.Group: The toys were shown to the standard 1 kids at MAIS.Individuals: The toy was shown to individual people and children.In context: The toys were left in an indoor space, where they arestuffed toys are usually played with.Out of context (hidden camera approach): 2 toys wereplaces in a park to see how children would react/interact withthe toy, if they found a stuffed toy/fabric toy (which is usually anindoor toy), in an outdoor space. These reactions were filmed from adistance.These reactions were filmed.86
  87. 87. LOOKING BACKLearnings• To appreciate the unusual.• To step out of my comfort zone.• To look at the conceptual side of objects.• Effective documentation and process.• Working with new material.Difficulties• Narrowing down my subject.• Making something ‘not cute’ turned out to be more difficult than I thought.• I have never worked on such a conceptual level before.• To create fabric structures myself.Conclusion• Just because its repulsive to adults, doesn’t mean it’s the same with kids.• Children should be allowed to choose their own toys.• Not everything has to have an end use; convey a message or have a meaning• People should take notice of the unconventional/unusual. 87
  88. 88. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFirstly, I would sincerely like to thank my panel members,Matt, Vasanti and Sanjay,who have been wondreful mentorsthroughout the duration of the project.Thanks to Anders for everything that he has taught me overthe 2 toy courses, and to keep me inspired enough to takeit forward.Thank you Avy, Kalpana, Raghu, Smriti.A big thanks to my family. My family, for always beingpositive and having faith in me and my work.Thanks Mandira, for all your inputs and for making theJapan trip insightful and great.A very special thanks to Ravi, Nandini and Nikita for alltheir love and for helping me out.A big thanks to Arjun and Pallavi for always being there asa friend and advisor.Last but not the least,my very special friends, Dhruvfor never saying no and keeping me motivated, Shilpa,Namrata and Aditya ,thank you for everything.Thanks to everyone who has helped and contributed andsupported me in my project.88

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