When the world changes shape, Clixo changes with it.

When the world changes shape,
Clixo changes with it.

By Clixo Team

September 2020

In this final piece of a three part blog series, Clixo founder Assaf discusses the importance of adaptability, and how Clixo can be a useful aid in the age of COVID-19.



Raise your hand if you’ve built a slide down your stairs out of cardboard boxes, turned the entire apartment into a playroom, or decided the whole family should don formal attire for a Tuesday night dinner? Times are crazy. We work, socialize, and play differently now, and there’s no instruction manual–parents are just making it up as they go along. 



In the first blog of this series, I talked about the role of constraints in creativity, and what COVID-19 has taught me about them. In the second blog, I talked about letting go of control, and how important that is for creative development. Now I want to turn to the third aspect I’ve reflected on during COVID: adaptability. 



In many ways, adaptability has to do both with constraint and with letting go of control. If we are adaptable, we are able to shift easily into new environments and circumstances. We are flexible, not rigid. Sometimes we get to have some say over adaptability in our lives. Other times–like right now–we don’t have a choice. The world has changed, and we have to change with it. 

One of the aspects of Clixo I am most proud of is this very characteristic: adaptability. Working in the toy industry for over twenty years, I have often been struck by how static and contextual toys are: sure, many of them are small or lightweight, but they don’t pack or travel easily, they are always underfoot, getting lost behind car seats, or require flat surfaces to play on. These toys can be very fun or very educational, given the right context, but they minimize potential creativity and enjoyment by being tethered to location or critical mass. 



What we need, I thought, is a modern twist on the classic building block: something that can be taken on the go, is easy to store and pack, requires a minimal number of pieces for maximum possibilities, and is just as fun to play with in a car, on a plane, at home, or on a playground. 

Clixo’s paper design and durable magnets makes it just such a toy. With even our largest pack weighing less than a pound, it stacks quickly and easily, integrates with objects around you, and is built for wear and tear. Best of all, with only seven shapes, you can already create millions of possibilities. 


At a time when our regular methods of travel, play-dating, and home life have been disrupted, I truly hope that Clixo can offer even an ounce of relief to parents everywhere who are struggling to adapt to the times. Whether you bring Clixo to the beach, turn it into a soccer ball, wear it as a crown, or make a duck while taking a bath, Clixo is there for you.

When the world changes shape, Clixo changes with it. 

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COVID-19, parenting, and the illusion of control

COVID-19, parenting, and the illusion of control

By Clixo Team

September 2020

In the second part of this three-part series, Clixo founder Assaf shares his experience and insight on why trying to control play and creativity is foolish.



How many of you feel in control these days? If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent your adult life paying lip service to a buddhism-esque mantra that we’re not really in control of things, but secretly you’ve thought you’re the exception to the rule. Bad things happen to other people. Plans come crashing down on those who don’t safeguard themselves well enough. But not you–you will emerge victorious and gracefully in control! 



With the arrival of COVID-19, no one can lie to themselves anymore about just how little control we have–just how easily the world can turn on its head. It’s a terrifying and stark reminder that life very rarely colors between the lines. 



In this series of blogs, I’ve been trying to make use of some of the reflection time I’ve had during COVID-19, and share my thoughts on how it relates to the realm of design, toys, and play. 

One of the big ideas I keep returning to is how as adults we have this white-knuckled grip on life, especially when we deeply care about things (like our children). We don’t want them to just play–we want them to play the most, the best, have the most fun, make the most creative things, learn the most they possibly can. But the simple fact of the matter is that when we approach creativity and play with that perspective, we are completely missing the point. You can’t control creativity. You can’t control play. What makes them so essential to childhood (and, let’s be honest, to adulthood too), is the fact that they resist linear, predictable development. Play is at its best when it is unexpected, when it breaks down boundaries, when we let our imaginations and intuitions take over. 



There’s an assignment I frequently give undergraduate students to try and get them back into this space of ‘uncontrolled’ creativity. By the age of 18, most people have already trained themselves to think there’s a right or wrong way to do things, and that the goal is to control yourself and the world around you as much as possible, so as to perform the ‘right’ way as much as you can. It’s a difficult habit to break. So I give my students an assignment they can’t google. An assignment that seems ridiculous, but which forces them to think in new ways. 

“I want you to come up with a way to move a cloud from New York to London,” I tell them. This is usually followed by crickets, some anxious questions, and a fearful silence as the students exit the class. But by the following week, when everyone has presented their often humorous and always extremely creative ideas, we’ve broken through into a new space. 



At Clixo, we’ve worked long and hard to develop a tool for creativity that puts all of the ‘control’ back in the hands of children. By control we don’t mean something rigid, but rather the opposite. We want kids who pick up Clixo to be immediately invited in, but not told there is a ‘right’ direction to go in. In fact, the goal–if there is a goal for Clixo–is for it to never reach a final form. As soon as something is created, we hope for it to be broken down and turned into something new.”

It can be counter-intuitive in the current day and age to correlate endless process rather than outcome with value, but it is indeed the cornerstone of creativity and all the good that creative engagement brings with it. 



So next time you set out to build a giraffe with your kid and they turn the head into a helicopter, we encourage you to congratulate, rather than try to rein them in. Let go of your illusions of control. It’ll do you–and your kids–a world of good. 



[Check out Part 1 of this series here and part 3 over here]

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How (some) limitations can be helpful

How (some) limitations can be helpful

By Clixo Team

August 2020

In this first part of a three-part series, Clixo’s founder Assaf shares some reflections on creativity and constraints during the time of COVID-19.



Nearly six months into COVID-19, it’s safe to say many of us are a little stir crazy. 😅



Seemingly overnight our worlds shrunk from, well, the world, to small, contained spaces, sometimes no bigger than single room apartments. The pain of this transition is particularly acute for parents, who have needed to suddenly fill in the gaps left by dozens of external structures that normally contribute to their childrens’ development, creativity, engagement, and sense of self. Summer camp? Cancelled. Play dates? Dubious. School? Remains to be seen. The disappearance of these integral parts of day to day life is more than just an issue of filling time. These activities are part of what help children grow, learn, and understand themselves, others, and the world. As parents, how can we possibly make up for all these critical aspects of development? Amidst all the unprecedented challenges and tragedy, are there any silver linings?

When I think about COVID-19, I think about the extremity of constraint it places on our lives. Things we have taken for granted forever–whether it’s taking the subway, offering your arm to an elderly person crossing the street, or having friends over for dinner–are suddenly dangerous at best, and quite often socially irresponsible. The interesting thing about freedom is that we notice it most acutely in its absence. As if made of gas, we tend to expand out to fill as much space as freedom allows us without a second thought. It is only when it is taken away that we notice the edges. 




But constraints aren’t entirely a bad thing. From a design perspective, constraints can actually be a critical part of encouraging freedom. Yes, that’s right–boundaries around freedom can actually strengthen freedom.”

Think about the following examples – Your boss walks into your office (this is back when offices existed) and tells you that the company needs to come up with a creative idea. You ask a few follow up questions, trying to figure out the perimeters. Your boss shrugs and tells you to just come up with something. What do you do with all that freedom? Is it liberating, or actually oppressive?



Another example. Your teacher asks you to write an essay on anything. Or you’re given a blank page and some crayons and told to draw whatever you like. Certainly, I think the vast majority of us would say there’s more pleasure to be found within total freedom than total control, but the ideal actually lays somewhere in between. 

In the toy world, I have long been fascinated with discovering what the exact ‘right’ amount of constraint is. From a psychological perspective, humans tend to be most creative when we are given some kind of perimeters to work within, the right tools to explore that space, and then the freedom to be and do in that space as we will. Even seemingly totally unstructured things, like playing in a sandbox, actually have very specific constraints built in, when you think about it. First off, there’s a literal box around the sand. Then there are the tools (the shovels, buckets, etc.) that children have to play with. Finally there is the material consistency of sand: some things are made easily with sand, some things can’t be made.

Now, am I saying the constraints COVID-19 has placed on us are a good thing that we should just be grateful for? Absolutely not. But it is also possible to take up creative possibilities in this time of constraint. A quick scroll through social media these days can reveal all sorts of fresh, innovative ideas parents have come up with for their kids during this time–ideas that never would have grown without the constraining factors that led to their genesis. 




With Clixo, the idea of constraint being wedded to creativity is built into the design. It took us over a thousand iterations to come up with a toy that provides just enough structure to alleviate the fears around starting, but which helps kids immediately establish a sense of infinite creative potential and autonomy once they start clicking.” 

Can you think of a constraint that initially irritated you, but ended up leading to a creative breakthrough? How can we work with constraints, rather than have them work against us? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



[Part 2 of this series is here and part 3 is over here]

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