Zoop creators Andrew Davis, Charlie Pizzoferro and Charlie Hudson on the origins of their den building kit

Arguably one of the stand out toy concepts at this year’s New Designers show, Zoop, created by Ravensbourne graduates Andrew Davis, Charlie Pizzoferro and Charlie Hudson, was commended by the LEGO judging team at the event and kickstarted a goal for the design trio to “make our mark on the toy industry”.

The range of colourful animal toys is designed to get kids active and puts a playful spin on the idea of a den building kit. Fresh from pitching the concept at the Mojo Pitch event last month, we caught up with Davis, Pizzoferro and Hudson to find out what’s next for Zoop.

What is Zoop and where did the idea come from?
Zoop is a set of colourful, friendly animal toys designed to encourage children to get outdoors and keep active.

Due to the difficulty in activities such as tying safe knots, and the low dexterity in children’s hands, children are being turned away from playing outside, so we wanted to try and bridge that difficulty gap and help children have fun outside. Drawing on the idea of creative play, each animal toy has their own unique talent, ready to help young adventurers build forts and dens with the things they find outdoors.

Zoop originally started as one of our university projects, and despite being great friends with each other, we quickly figured out that we have nothing in common in regards to design, each coming from different backgrounds. We wanted to have some fun while working together and settled on making some sort of toy.

Looking back on our childhoods, one thing we all remember distinctly was how fun it was to build forts with whatever we could, as well as how hard they could be to put together as children.

Can you talk through a little of the design process?
The start of this project quite literally had us sitting at a drawing board, trying to nail down which animals suited which role best. It wasn’t long until we were up and outdoors playing around with whatever we could find, figuring out ways to join and connect the various sticks and branches we found.

Being really hands on with this project, making model after model, proved to be key in the creation of Zoop and gave us the chance to play outdoors like a bunch of kids again, which of course we didn’t mind!

All three of you worked on the project, but how did you split the design duties?
Building on what we said before, coming from different backgrounds, we each brought something different to the project. Working as a bushcraft instructor, Charlie H had experienced first hand the tasks children struggle with in fort building and other outdoor activities. Charlie H’s input covered a lot more of the technical side, knowing the ins and outs of each knot and how we could replace that function.

Coming from a fashion-focused background, often working with new and unique textiles, Charlie P has a strong knowledge on various materials and their properties. This really came into play when trying to figure out how to incorporate both rigid and flexible parts into some of the toys.

Andrew works in the packaging design industry, an industry heavily focused on aesthetics and branding. This proved invaluable later on in the process, focusing on the overall look of the toys, playing with various colour schemes and forms. This also helped when thinking up a name and style for the brand.

What’s next for Zoop?
Being relatively new to the world of toys, we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. Together, we hope to continue to develop and refine Zoop, and potentially see how far this project can take us. The three of us are very keen to keep working together, constantly trying to come up with new fun ideas, seeing if we can make our mark on the toy industry.

For more information on Zoop, contact the team at [email protected].

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