Form, Function and Fun
When I finally got serious about designing the Whirly-Go-Round, I knew the metal my dad used wasn’t ideal. But when I started considering materials, I knew I wanted it to not only be funomenally fun, but I wanted the fun to be sustainable.
Spud and my Dad had started out making beautiful hardwood slingshots. And I was reminded of the story my dad shared about their Australian toy rep sending him hoops made of wood. My dad loved their beauty and value. But in order to make them in the U.S., they made them out of plastic. In the 60's and 70's, toys could be cheaply made with plastic.
When I visited my daughter’s house, I was struck by how many toys are still created with plastic. They're scattered around the house and yard and a big box is filled for their next garage sale. I wanted to make something fun that would last, the opposite of cheap plastic. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a toy that kids loved, and instead of ending up in the next garage sale, it could be enjoyed for years and then even saved for their own children one day?
Like the slingshots and original hula hoops, I would redesign the Whirly-Go-Round out of wood.
In June 2019, I created my first 4 designs with plywood. While the hardwood surface layer was beautiful, it didn’t have the structural integrity I wanted because it wasn’t authentic, solid wood. But solid wood would require big, old growth trees and I wasn’t about to cut down beautiful old trees. So reluctantly, I moved on to designing for steel tubing. I went through ten more designs with steel. Legs presented safety hazards. The pedestal designs were safe, but were cold and uninviting. It was around this time that I discovered the amazing properties and beauty of bamboo.
Bamboo is the hardest known wood, and the most durable. It grows fast and is plentiful. Best of all, it's gorgeous. This solved both the issue of form and function creating a beautiful piece of furniture that’s environmentally responsible. Instead of plastic clutter, there’s a gorgeous wood sculpture that fits in with any decor. Not to mention, an incredibly fun, long-lasting toy that could be used over and over and potentially handed down to the next generation to further enjoy.
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