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 hello@myclixo.com.



With love from the Clixo family, 



Assaf

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The Sweet Spot for Creativity

The Sweet Spot for Creativity

By Clixo Team

June 2017

What’s the right amount of constraint?



Have you ever thought about the process of building a puzzle, or putting together a model? You get a bunch of pieces, and the goal is to figure out how to put them back together again. How quickly you achieve this can vary, but there’s only one of two possible outcomes: either you succeed, by making the one intended final product, or you give up. While this process can be challenging and even fun, we at Clixo don’t believe it’s the best method for breeding creativity or innovation.

So is the solution to eliminate constraints entirely? Well, not so fast. 



The truth is that research shows too much freedom is also a creativity killer. Faced with a blank page or a set of non-descript, homogenous objects and told to “do anything,” the chances of sparking inspiration are also low.



It turns out that the sweet spot for creativity lies between these poles. Too much constraint, and we are uninspired. Too little, and we don’t know where to start.



The question becomes: what is the ideal amount of constraint?

This question is one of the fundamental principles integrated into the design of Clixo. Like the art of origami, Clixo is infinitely changeable, but sets of principles guide the way. Designed with a shape and a method of attaching to itself that never runs out of alternatives, Clixo also provides enough structure so that no child is lost at the start. As you discover certain shapes, or sets of shapes, you begin to build a vocabulary of principles that can then be built upon and adapted in new ways.




For example, a child can quickly discover how to make a snake out of Clixo. Once they have that construction internalized, they will then see that possibility when they are trying to make a neck for a giraffe, or legs for a robot. The possibilities are endless, but they are built out of manageable steps.

As parents and adults (but also kids-at-heart), we would do well during these unprecedented times to reflect on how constraints often serve a purpose, or can have a silver lining. As COVID-19 has relegated many of us and our families into our homes, limiting us from playgrounds, playdates, and school, we have been forced to get creative in how we keep our kids engaged. Scrolling through Instagram accounts like Goodnews Movement, one sees slides built out of cardboard boxes, improvised backyard rollercoasters, and whole-family musical productions with lyrics adapted to reflect COVID-19. None of this is to undermine the enormous difficulty and tragedy COVID-19 is, but to offer a gentle reminder that sometimes limits can make us see, engage with, and reimagine things in new ways.



Often, we don’t get to choose what limits us. We take what exists for granted, and utilize it to the best of our ability. What is so wonderful about play, and what children teach us again and again, is how constraints aren’t an end point—they’re a beginning. We can’t play away the laws of gravity or physics, or the materiality or objects, but we can break down our calcified relationship to those boundaries.



Don’t bump up against a constraint and turn back. Hit a constraint and jump off.



With love from the Clixo family,



Assaf

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