For our senior capstone project, the plush+ group formed with the mission to create a product for children centered around empathy, compassion, and play. After 20 weeks, we developed a toy that teaches kids to embrace their friends with different abilities. The configuration of each plush doll is unknown until delivery, encouraging kids to welcome the unexpected delights that enter into their lives.
Our research began at the Magical Bridge Park, an accessible playground in Palo Alto, CA. Despite an excellently designed physical space to interact, children of different abilities weren't having as many positive social interactions as we anticipated. How could we foster more of these friendships? Through more conversation, we noticed that early, sibling-like relationships between kids with different abilities often led to more compassion.
We strove to create a toy for young children, unique in its differences, that illuminates and celebrates what it means to be different and encourages more positive interactions among all types of kids. After many iterations, we developed a blueprint to create a lovable, bear-like toy that appealed to kids aged 5-9.
Every single plush toy would have colors and features that represented a unique ability. We selected a color palette that was warm, vibrant, and inviting which could be easily be paired on different plush toys. To compliment this we chose a typeface that is friendly and versatile, which we used in titles as well as copy on our packaging.
Key in connecting with kids was allowing them to assemble their plush themselves, making their plush unique inside and out. After stuffing and patching their toy up, they could give their plush an identity and learn about its different abilities.
We ran a brief campaign across various social media platforms, and conducted user testing on a beta plush+ website. The response from parents and potential buyers was overwhelmingly positive.