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An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

By Assaf

February 2021

Dear Friends,

I read an alarming article the other day.

In it, Gail Cornwall, a writer who specializes in writing about education and parenting, traces the rising attack on children’s autonomy through increasingly controlling parenting models. She writes, “In recent decades, constantly monitoring and directing kids, or scheduling them to be monitored and directed, not only became the norm for parents who can afford it, but the model of parenting. Indeed, research indicates parents across the class spectrum now consider it the ideal way to parent.”

But what are the costs of this trend? The list is long.

First off, research shows that it increases a sense of helplessness and decreases the growth of agency and resilience. Helicopter parenting has also been linked to depression, anxiety, and lower levels of self-advocacy. 

Now, I’m not a trained expert in parenting, but I have spent over two decades teaching design, working in the toy industry, and developing a philosophy around play.

I can say with complete and unequivocal confidence: attempting to control children’s play is not only counter-productive, but actually damaging to creativity. 

Why? Simply put, children are better positioned to be the masters and guiders of play than we are. When we, as adults, try to control what they do, we are superimposing our much more rigid, limited way of thinking on them. We are doing them a disservice.

You may be asking at this point, what does this have to do with instruction booklets?

Basically, we don’t believe in traditional instruction booklets. Too often, instruction booklets are simply a way for adults to push their way of thinking onto children. However, we received some feedback over the holidays, in which some parents wished Clixo came with more intensive instructions, and so I decided to write an open letter to all you skeptics out there.

The question I would like us to begin with is: “Why do you wish there was an instruction booklet?”

I won’t pretend to know your exact reasoning, but I bet it falls under the following kind of logic. You might think that it’s cheap or lazy to not give children guidance on a toy you just bought. In the absence of extensive instructions, the weight will fall on your shoulders to tell them what to do with it, and isn’t the whole point of a toy that it makes your job as a parent easier, not more difficult?

Let me assure you, the minimalist booklet that comes with Clixo is very intentional, and serves a specific purpose.

As you can see above, it’s not that Clixo arrives with nothing, but that we have very intentionally provided just enough guidance to kickstart creativity, but not so much as to control it. 

One of the core design elements of Clixo is that it is an intuitive toy. We went through over a thousand prototypes to find a base shape that signals in a very obvious way how to connect Clixo pieces to themselves and other pieces. This does enormous work to lower the barrier of entry for children. Instead of unwrapping a complex set of pieces that require forethought, reading, and ‘understanding’ in order to begin, children can jump right into creating. 

This allows them to follow their creative intuition, rather than be corralled from the start by an adult’s opinion on how they should start. 

I can’t tell you how many genius creations I’ve observed come out of children when they were first handed Clixo–many of the creations that have now come to be classics in the Clixo vocabulary were sparked by children thinking outside the box.

Not only does this allow kids to start more quickly and naturally, but it also creates a safe, non-judgemental space for creation, right from the start. The natural by-product of rigid instructions is that they force a binary distinction between a ‘right’ way of doing things, and a ‘wrong’ way of doing things. In line with the research around helicopter parenting, making these strict judgements seriously hinders creativity, but even more concerningly, it has a negative impact on childrens’ development of autonomy and confidence in self-expression. 

Now, there is of course a time and a place for instructions. If you are putting together a piece of Ikea furniture, for example, it’s pretty critical that you assemble the pieces in the right way, in order for the furniture to be functional.

But what’s the point in determining what a child ought to create from the start? At best, they will execute it accurately, and that will be the end of it. When children are forced to create in a certain way, they are unlikely to be inspired or excited to make future creations. It increases their self consciously and anxiety to compare themselves with others, or to keep their creations inside the ‘typical’ box. After all, toys don’t serve a functional purpose–if you’re trying to build a couch, get furniture. If you’re trying to decorate with static models, buy a model set.

If we are being totally honest, kids aren’t the ones who want instruction manuals. It’s parents who want them. 

I don’t say this as an accusation, but as a gentle reminder that the discomfort is a natural part of the process. It’s okay to worry that your child will be bored or won’t know how to have fun within the semi-constraints of an open-ended play system. But ultimately, working through that discomfort is your responsibility as a parent, because in doing so you will be protecting and encouraging your child to thrive creatively. 

At Clixo, we strive to always hit the sweet spot of constraint. In fact, this is one of our five pillars of play philosophy. This means creating an ever-expanding catalogue of challenges for our Clixo community, so that there are sparks of inspiration available, but never rigid guidelines. It’s the difference between leading with instructions versus allowing the community to come seek inspiration, should they want it. 

In other words, it’s the difference between deciding how play should be, and giving you all the tools to create the best form of play for yourself.

Happy playing,

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Revisiting Packaging: Sometimes change is uncomfortable.

Revisiting Packaging: Sometimes change is uncomfortable

By Clixo Team

January 2021

Why it’s time to let go of boxes upon boxes.

Back in August when Clixo had first launched, we posted a piece about our (somewhat unusual) thinking around packaging. Yes, we are doing sustainable packaging, but that’s hardly the big news. What’s different about Clixo’s packaging is that it’s, well, almost like anti-packaging.

Say what?

As you can see, the recyclable box Clixo comes in is very low profile and unobtrusive. Unlike standard packaging in the toy industry, where the boxes toys come in are then used for storage, Clixo’s packaging is meant to be recycled or repurposed.

Over the holidays, we got a lot of feedback from Clixo customers who loved the product, but were requesting the kind of packaging that they are used to.

In other words, they wanted to stay in their comfort zone, with packaging that doubles as storage.

We thought about this request long and hard. On the one hand, we pride ourselves on developing and innovating Clixo in very close dialogue with our community, and we take the feedback we get very seriously. But on the other hand, we felt very strongly that the thinking behind our packaging choice was a direct representation of core values we hold as a company. On top of that, we’d reached our original stance based on the extensive consumer testing we did even before launch, and we’d heard time and again that toys which are stored in boxes end up in another box — be in a chest or a closet — and often stay there.

As we were mulling over this dilemma, I happened to run into a parent who lives in the Clinton Hill neighborhood and regularly frequents our play lab. I was deep in an internal debate over the packaging, and the conversation I had with this parent came at the exact right moment. In simple terms, she just got it. She really understood our philosophy around Clixo, and how our packaging may be difficult to adjust to at first, but is a genuine representation of our core ethos around play. This made me realize two things:

1. We needed to stick to our intuition, but
2. We needed to do a better job at educating our community about the thinking behind our packaging

So, without further ado, let me explain.

Play as Unboxing Versus Play as Play

One of the most troubling aspects of the toy industry today is the way that mass manufacturing and the rise of licensing has led to a never-ending race to attract eyeballs through flashy packaging. The toys that sell best these days are often not the most thoughtfully created toys, but the toys that come in the most attention-grabbing packaging. The toy industry has learned how to play into children’s weak spots, luring them in through collectibles and characters they see in the media. The result is that buying toys has become more about the dopamine rush of unboxing than the long term, creative and often educational engagement that occurs with thoughtfully designed toys.

It makes total sense that a toy which hasn’t been designed for long-term entertainment will need a storage container. After all, if most of the excitement comes from unwrapping and then a child quickly grows bored of a toy, it’s completely reasonable that parents would want a nice (ideally modular) storage container to put that unused toy away in. Original packaging serves this purpose. All you need is a closet with some shelves, and there you go! You can pack box upon box.

But let’s think about this a little more deeply. Isn’t the whole notion of storing toys away in boxes, piled on top of each other, in some hidden place, a huge barrier to play? It makes getting the toy out a whole production. The fact that parents prefer this isn’t a good sign: it’s an indicator that either:

1. The toy is so boring that children don’t ask to get it out very often, so the hassle is minimal
2. The toy is so aesthetically offensive that parents really don’t want it laying around, or
3. Both of the above.

Is that really the best we could hope for from a toy?

At Clixo, we don’t think so. We think that thoughtful toys are meant to be universally accessible, endlessly entertaining, and aesthetically complimentary to more adult environments.

Similar to the principles behind the famous child “Cockpit” designed by Bruno Munari (a jack of all trades and an idol of mine), Clixo has been designed to intentionally dissolve the boundary between object of play and the storage of said object: Clixo is always available for play, partially because it is self-storing.

Say goodbye to boxes. Say hello to creativity.

Clixo Toy Store

What I realized in my conversation with our friendly neighborhood parent is that parents, just as much as kids, need to be encouraged to be creative in their thinking. “Of course it was uncomfortable at first,” she said. “I wasn’t used to a toy that naturally integrates with the apartment rather than is put away after play, but I quickly got the hang of it and now I see how cool it is for a toy to be always ready to go.”

She was especially inspired after she visited our play lab and saw all the creative ways that Clixo was integrated with the environment:

She realized that Clixo didn’t need to just lay on the ground or sit on a counter until its next usage — it could make a shape on the kitchen appliances, the desks, the bed frame — anywhere her child felt inspired to create.

“Also,” she added, “if I really needed to ever store it somewhere, I could always use storage I already have, like a Tupperware or a zip lock bag. Honestly though, I don’t see myself doing that. Now that it’s always around, I even find myself picking it up and playing with it.”

Change is Tricky. Especially for Adults.

One of the things we love so much about children’s minds is how open they are, and how quick to adapt. Among our avid community of Clixo-enthusiasts, no kid has complained about a lack of storage options. You might say, “well yeah duh,” but it’s worth pausing to think through why that is. It’s not like children aren’t used to packaging being a certain way. Like their parents, they also have navigated the standard-issue toy box plenty of times. But instead of being so resistant to change, children are much better at taking it in stride. Give them a stack of Clixo, get rid of the box, and they’ll never think to ask about it, they will just naturally come up with creative ways to play with it and place it.

For the parents out there, here’s my suggestion. Embrace the discomfort. Innovation naturally brings some growing pains: just think about Tesla’s model of car charging points, for one example among many.

We’re very confident that if you think it through and accept that the real purpose of a toy is to encourage play (and the best way to do that is to have a toy naturally designed to be accessible and adaptable) then letting go of packaging is a step in the right direction.

Sure, you might have some knee-jerk reactions to it at first, but hey, when is it ever better to play it safe in the realm of creativity?

Happy playing,

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A Gift For the Ages

A Gift For the Ages

By Assaf

November 2020

Why Clixo is the perfect present this holiday season????.
– A #SmallBusinessSaturday special blog post –

We can all agree that 2020 has been an unusual year. It would be nice to believe that such unprecedented times won’t impact the holidays, but of course they will. Everything about 2020 — including Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years — is radically different.

So, what should we do when the world changes shape?

We should change shape with it.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of trickle-down innovation into the toy industry (or the marketing of toys) this year.

Today I want to write a short post, sharing three reasons why Clixo is a gift well-suited for such crazy times. …

Reason #1: the all-in-one minimalist gift.

In Rosseau’s Second Treatise, he makes the argument that our ability to adapt is what sets us apart as a species. We don’t passively navigate the world — we actively move through it, constantly making connections and micro adjustments to our behavior to better suit the environment. It is in our nature to metaphorically change shape.

And yet, so much of what we engage with as an extension of ourselves — from toys to tools to technologies — doesn’t accurately reflect that characteristic. We create things that are static, immovable, and single-purpose because they are easier. They’re easier to create, and they’re easier to make redundant, therefore perpetuating a cycle of consumerism.

Our lives and homes become cluttered with discarded, poorly made toys in our quest for creativity.

No sooner has a child received a toy than they have outgrown it. Why?

Because the toy doesn’t adapt. It doesn’t change shape as the child grows and explores new realms of their imagination. It also doesn’t adapt to different environments — whether it’s the back seat of a car, the waiting room at the dentist, or the grocery cart.

I built Clixo to be a natural, rather than artificial, tool for play.

Its shape was inspired by the human hand, with its infinite ways of bending, connecting, and holding. Everything about it, from the durability yet flexibility of the plastic to the strength of the magnets and the color combinations was created with an eye towards encouraging play any where, any time, for any one. Most importantly, it makes this kind of play easy, by requiring only a single stack of lightweight, easy-to-pack pieces.

Underlying these design principles is a social and moral philosophy: at Toyish, we don’t believe in consumerism for the sake of consumerism. We also don’t believe that toys have to clash with an otherwise ‘adult’ space.

Why not bring the design thinking that informs highly functional, beautiful, minimalist design into the toy world?

Why not create a single toy that integrates seamlessly with any space, making both parent and child happy?

Human creativity is a highly dynamic, flexible, and adaptable quality. Don’t buy into the marketing that claims your child needs 101 toys to ‘hone their creativity skills.’ It’s simply not true.

Reason #2: Creativity extends beyond the shapes.

As we buckle down through a second wave of COVID cases, parents and children alike are understandably pretty stir crazy. There’s only so many times you can redo a puzzle before all excitement wears off.

From the very beginning of Clixo (even before we knew a global pandemic was on the way), we’ve been committed to not only building a toy, but building a community of creativity. This plays out in a number of ways.

First off, we hold regular virtual playdates, in which I lead whoever wants to tune in over zoom through challenges with Clixo. These events provide a nice structure and break from the routine of lockdown, and allow community members to connect through play.

Clixo Toy Store

Second, if you are based in NYC, we encourage you to come check out our learning lab in Clinton Hill. An airy, COVID-safe space, it has been providing families with an outing that brings some much needed playfulness back into their days.

We are constantly coming up with new, innovative ways to engage, challenge, and continue lighting the spark of creativity in our community. If you buy Clixo, you aren’t buying a static, finished product. You are entering into a whole world of constantly evolving ideas and opportunities. You’re joining a community of creativity.

Reason #3: It’s sustainable.

This reason is short and sweet.

We know climate change is a problem. We know consumerism is a big part of that, and that the holiday season accounts for an enormous percentage of annual consumerism in the United States.

Clixo is a truly modern toy because it genuinely reflects our modern reality. Made from a proprietary blend of plastics that are durable and recyclable, and delivered in packaging made from recycled paper, Clixo’s design is inherently eco-friendly.

Even more important than the materials that go into Clixo’s material shape is the minimalist ethos behind Clixo, discussed above. Clixo isn’t made to be redundant, or to require infinite future purchases. Yes, we will continue to build out new shapes and accessories, but not because the original set doesn’t contain enough possibilities as is. We continue to evolve and grow the Clixo shapes based on feedback and creative ideas from members of our community, but it is never our intention to pressure (through marketing or design) our customers to buy more.

It may sound strange to hear a CEO disincentivizing his customers from buying more of his product, but it has truly never been our goal to flood people’s lives with an over-abundance of Clixo. That would just be replicating the thoughtless, unsustainable methods of the mainstream toy industry.

We built Clixo to offer infinite possibilities. We truly hope that the Clixo family makes their purchases with intentionality, and the confidence that a single Clixo set is more than enough to keep kids (and kids at heart) fully submerged in the magic of play.

Happy holidays, and happy playing!

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Against the Current: Opening a COVID-safe, Creative Space

Against the Current: Opening a COVID-safe, Creative Space

By Assaf

November 2020

Finding creative possibilities in challenging times.

Finding ways to stay playful during COVID-19 isn’t easy. 

Eight months in and with winter months looming ahead, parents all over the place (and especially in cities like New York, with notoriously little space), are scrambling to find ways to keep their families safe and entertained. 

But where should they go? 

In challenging times, it is imperative that we be as creative as possible, seeking innovation in areas that we might not normally think are primed for innovation. 

Like, for instance, a toy store. 

Close your eyes and imagine a toy store. What do you see? Probably long aisles, stuffed to the gills with boxes. It’s dusty, cramped, and stressful. At best, it allows you to buy something that you can have fun with somewhere else. 

At Toyish, we figured it was probably time to present the world with a seriously-updated reimagining of what a toy store can–and should–offer during these stressful times. 

Welcome to our Clixo toy store and play lab in Clinton Hill, where design and creativity play together. 

Why we turned a retail space into a learning lab

Throughout the development of Clixo, fostering a constant dialogue with our community has been our number one priority. From the very beginning of R&D for Clixo to the current day, we have been talking with parents and kids, testing out ideas, and listening to feedback. Instead of running a focus group once every year or two, we have a constant, active focus group. 

This is indicative of a fundamentally different structure we operate under. We don’t design in a top-down vacuum. There isn’t a chasm between us as ‘creators’ and our community as ‘consumers.’ Instead, we see all of the Clixo family as active participants in a symbiotic design loop. Most importantly, we think that addressing kids from ‘above’ as designers who are trying to teach and effectively corral children into adulthood is a bad approach. Children naturally have wells of artistic talent–our job isn’t to shape it, but to give them the tools to shape in themselves, and to observe that process as a key part of our R&D. 

That’s why we decided to launch a hybrid design-play space in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of New York that is being hailed as “the perfect place for creative kids.”

What we love so much about this moniker is that it gets to the heart of what we are doing: our primary goal is to foster a safe, creative play space. 

Selling Clixo is secondary to that goal. 

In fact, you are hard pressed to find any packaged toys for sale upon entering the store. As an open and airy space that utilizes Clixo’s magnetic feature to vertically integrate the pieces, children are primarily invited to come be creators and showcase their creations. If a visitor decides to buy a Clixo product, that in and of itself is turned into a creative adventure– the packaged Clixo products are hidden in the hood of the car!

Everything about the creative journey throughout our space, from entry to exit, has been reimagined. In a time when there are strict limits on hours and accommodation of visitors, we’ve done things like design a magic doorbell, so that if children ring the bell at a time when they aren’t able to come in, the car in the shop lights up and makes noises, prompting joy and creativity in the child, even from the outside. 

Part of the reason we are so committed to prioritizing a safe and innovative play space over selling our product is–counter-intuitively–for selfish reasons. As I said above, Clixo isn’t a static product. We absolutely believe that it is through constantly learning from the broader Clixo family that we are able to iteratively create the best toy. For us, the best toy is one that can bring the most joy and creativity to the children of today, blessed with their unique capacities and faced with their unique challenges. 

We are interested in fostering and optimizing creativity long term, not in getting rich quick. That’s why we turned a retail space into a learning lab. 

What it means to open a space during a pandemic

First off, any space that is operating during a global pandemic needs to take on the social responsibility that comes with that. We are very proud and confident in the measures we are have taken, which include:

We are limiting people in the store to 1 family at a time to allow each family time to play in a safe environment.

  • One of our key product features is how easy it is to clean the products. We spray these with a 70% isopropyl solution that not only cleans but disinfects the pieces.
  • We have a strict masks-required policy, temperature checks, and have everyone sanitize their hands as they enter the store. We also have three sinks with soaps in the space that kids can use if needed.
  • There are two doors in the toy store and they are completely open to maximize air flow and minimize the viral load in the space. In the winter, the doors will be opened every 20-30 minutes to ensure that there’s enough aeration.
  • We have an advanced air filtration system in place for when the doors are closed.
  • We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation in New York, which still boasts one of the lowest rates compared to other states, and review our policies on a daily basis to ensure that we are complying with the state’s rules and being as safe as we possibly can. 
  • Like everything we do, we thought long and hard about how we could safely provide what our community so desperately needs (a fun playspace) during such a challenging time. 

    While we feel an acute responsibility to be as safe about COVID-19 as possible, we also feel a legitimate responsibility to help support parents and children. Being stuck in the same apartment space day after day, month after month, is a profoundly stressful and limiting experience. 

    Because thinking about how play integrates with spaces is so integral to our design (Clixo is lightweight, stackable, doesn’t require a flat surface to build with, and integrates easily with diverse environments), failing to provide an innovative space to our community would have felt truly disingenuous to our mission. 

    I also think it is important to remember that for better or worse, even during a pandemic, the world spins madly on. Time is passing, and children need to learn and grow in one capacity or another. Helping to open up our community’s world even a little bit can go a long way. 

    Our design-play space opened on Monday, November 9, 2020, and we have been overwhelmed by the appreciation and gratitude we have received from parents. 

    Yael Magnes, a mother of two who lives in the neighborhood, wrote us to say, “We are so lucky to have such a lively toy store open in our neighborhood, especially during this time when a pandemic is changing the rules of the game. It’s not simply a toy store, it’s a creative space that teaches children and grownups alike to think out of the box, and be creative in any circumstance we are in.  And it’s a space that can create community – that is what upper middle class family’s need to learn to depend on – community. As for safety, Clixo’s measure make me feel it is as safe as can be at this point in time. For me it also feels like home…thank you for making me feel more at home!”

    We couldn’t agree more with Yael. Now more than ever is the time to prioritize community and creativity. So if you live in NYC and you’re looking for some safe playtime, swing by our learning lab! We’d love to have you. 

    Keep safe and playful!

    Next Story

    Why the Basic Building Block was Due for an Update

    Why the Basic Building Block Was Due for An Update

    Why the Basic Building Block was Due for an Update

    By Clixo Team

    October 2020

    Our world used to be a lot more square. There are good reasons for this. Squares are easy to build with, and structurally sound. With the rise of industrialization and the possibility of mass producing simple shapes, squares were a no brainer, and they dominated much of the design world for a lot of the 20th century. Think modernism, but also think Lego: no shape has historically screamed building block more than the iconic Lego brick.

    But we’re not in the 20th century anymore, and we don’t live, think, or play the same way, either. Integrating more naturalistic shapes into everything from architecture to footwear has become the norm, and yet much of the toy industry is still stuck either within geometric shapes, or prefabricated figures.

    That’s why our founder, Assaf, set out to design the basic building block with a modern twist. He knew he needed to answer the desires, intuitions, and lifestyle of play time (and parenting) in the 21st century. That meant a lot of things. It mean that the toy had to compete with the ever-alluring pull of screen time, it needed to be simultaneously accessible and challenging for kids at a variety of developmental levels, it needed to push back against the modern pressure of perfectionism and checking boxes, it needed to encourage maximum creativity and self-expression, it needed to help kids learn in a fun way, and it needed to suit the on-the-go demands of modern parenting.

    It was a long list–it’s no wonder it took over a thousand prototypes to come up with Clixo. But after two years of tireless experimentation, Clixo was born, ushering in a whole paradigm shift in building block toys. Don’t believe us yet? Let’s break down the anatomy of Clixo:

    If you take a moment to add all of these differences up, the picture of what play with a traditional building block versus play with Clixo looks like is fundamentally different.  ‘Old school’ play tended to happen in set areas (a living room, the basement), with a huge bin of plastic blocks dumped out and built into standard, square-based shapes. Sometimes these creations were left out to collect dust on a shelf, sometimes they broke apart and scattered (only to elicit howls of rage upon getting underfoot), and sometimes they were thrown back into the box.

    With Clixo, the picture’s a little different. Maybe your kid is building a dragon in the backseat as you roadtrip across the country. Maybe they are sticking an amorphous, as-of-yet undefined shape to the refrigerator, or the slide at the park. Maybe they are snapping it back into its easy-to-store form and throwing it in their backpack before they go to meet a friend, or maybe they’re turning Clixo pieces into the bag itself! Flexible, lightweight, easy to stack and store, and with infinite possibilities and ways of engaging with the environment around it, Clixo truly is the building block of the future.

    In a world that increasingly breaks down boundaries and requires rapid adaptation to new normals, it’s important to arm our children with toys that can keep up. That’s why Clixo has been designed to suit our modern needs. It’s more than just a toy. It’s a tool of creativity.

    By: Finnegan Shepard

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    Don’t Store It, Use it!

    Don’t Store It, Use it!

    By Assaf

    August 2020

    Clixo’s packaging is made to be recycled, not re-used. 

    It’s becoming best practice these days to put extra effort into product packaging. Whether that’s making it eco-friendly, adding personalized touches, or using really high quality materials, companies are using packaging as a way to make a lasting first impression. Given how much competition is out there, this makes sense. Every way to differentiate your brand helps.

    At Clixo, we’ve also thought long and hard about packaging, going so far as to do extensive user testing on a variety of models. First we tried out a thin, cardboard case that allowed the Clixo pieces to lay flat. Next, we got excited by the possibility of a metal box. But then when we went out into the field to talk to parents and observe how kids interacted (or didn’t) interact with toy packaging, the resounding response we heard was that toys disappear back into boxes, boxes disappear into stacks in the closet or on shelves, and the system that was meant to help organize actually ends up cluttering.

    We take the feedback we receive from parents and children very seriously, and so we ended up coming to a slightly different conclusion than most other brands. Instead of using packaging as yet another material to try and assert our presence in, we built our packaging with the opposite goal in mind.

    We want you to get rid of our packaging. Not because it’s cheap, shoddy, or an aesthetic nightmare. No, because the whole ethos of our toy is for it to jump straight out into the world and never go back. The bamboo, recyclable shell it comes in is minimalist and can be used to store other things (if you’d like), but the quick peel-off lid is purposely made to not go back on the shell. That’s because we want opening Clixo to be a singular experience, before the toy takes on its true nature as a constantly evolving creative tool in whatever environment you’re in. While some toys are made to be perfectly fit together (only to end up collecting dust on a shelf), and others are made to be messily used and then carelessly thrown back into boxes, Clixo is built to be in a constant state of iteration. It’s self-storing, integrating with the world around it.

    Maybe at the end of today’s play session your child’s Clixo pack has turned into a crown they wear at dinner. Or maybe it’s turned into a basket they attach to the refrigerator. Maybe they want to bring it on a playdate the next morning, and so they quickly snap it up into a stack and put it in their backpack.

    Regardless, the mark of a good Clixo session isn’t a feeling of having ‘completed’ something and then storing it away. It’s about experiencing the joy of exploration, invention, and discovery.”

    Our packaging is simple. That’s how we think it should be. Environmentally responsible, satisfying to tear open and dive into, and made to be recycled. After all, anything that gets between you and your creativity is something to be minimized, not maximized. So let it go, and get clicking!

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    The Birth of Clixo

    The Birth of Clixo

    By Clixo Team

    June 2020

    While the idea behind Clixo has been developing in me over the course of my career, it officially began to take form in 2017, as I watched design students get incredibly creative using only paper. The concept struck me: how could I use paper–an incredibly dynamic material–in a way where it would attach to itself?

    I began to iterate as quickly as possible, using paper, hot glue, and magnets to test out different ways I could build shapes. My years of experience teaching, playing, and studying the philosophy and psychology of play was all coalescing into this project. I wanted to know how I could build something that could be more than one thing, and would encourage the greatest amount of free form, free range creativity. 

    At first, the iterations kept leading me towards a tube shape. This was interesting, but ultimately limiting. Sure, I could build a dragon neck or buildings or trees, but I felt that the system wasn’t flexible enough. I moved on to sets of geometric shapes: squares, triangles, and circles, but again, after hundreds of iterations, I ran up against a limitation. Geometric shapes wouldn’t transform in an intuitive, natural way from 2d to 3d. I wasn’t entirely sure why, but I knew that whatever I created needed to make this transformation gracefully, and geometric shapes wouldn’t offer that possibility. 

    It was at this point that I sat down with Oren Zuckerman, an expert in interactive technologies at miLab in Israel. After a long conversation, he said something I needed to hear. “Who cares about another dragon?” he said. “Go back to the fundamentals. What is your Lego brick?”

    I knew there was something in the seed of my idea, but that I needed to begin again, stripping everything back to basics. I began playing with strips, and then strips that had circular ends. One day, I connected two strips with magnets at their center and saw just how dynamic this shape was, able to fold and click intuitively into endless different shapes. 

    If I had to point to a singular moment in which the base form for Clixo was created, this would be it. But the creative process is never about a singular moment or a strict before or after. All of my years of experience and playful exploration through iteration informed this moment, and the design just kept evolving from there. I discovered that the rounded nature of the shapes gave creations an organic feel, and that the base form very intuitively moved from 2d to 3d. The more I played with it, the more I surprised myself, constantly finding new ways to attach the shapes and transfigure them. 

    As a creator, I never want to discover the full potential of anything I create. My ultimate goal is to aid and nourish the infinite possibilities that children are able to come up with through approaching a toy in unique and varying ways. My job is to facilitate, not control.

    In fact, Clixo isn’t so much a static toy as a family of shapes that work together as a tool for creativity. We are constantly evolving and expanding the vocabulary of shapes, sizes, and accessories, not just based on our own ideas and discoveries, but based on yours. We always love to hear from kids (and kids at heart) about how we can expand the creative universe even further. What would you love to be added to the Clixo shape vocabulary? 

    We look forward to hearing from you at [email protected].

    With love from the Clixo family, 


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