How We Designed the Pillow Playsets

Hey, Sarah here – designer behind the Pillow Playsets!

I thought it’d be fun to show you some of early prototypes – super DIY and low-fi, we make these in-house to playtest with the kids and parents who come into our office for weekly playtesting. This way, we get a good idea of whether or not the play patterns are resonating with kids, and get a good chance to chat with parents about what they might change.

Before I pulled out the sewing machine, I tested the concept with paper prototypes first. You can start to see some of the artwork & features emerge here – the bed on the dollhouse and oven door pocket.

Here’s our first kitchen prototype! I sewed this pillow myself and then drew the design right on the fabric with Sharpie – not very glamorous, but it got the job done!

We were unsure going in if kids would “get” the playsets without lots of colour, but they picked up the play patterns right away – hiding food away in the oven and flipping eggs on the stove.

Here’s an adorable shot of one of our playtesters trying out the kitchen playset. This was before we’d made the plush props – note the plastic frying pan and bacon! This is when we started to realize that the playsets weren’t just for couches: they worked great on easy chairs, and plain old wooden chairs too!

And here’s the first doctor’s office prototype. As you can see, it has many of the same elements though the size and scale has changed quite a bit. Drawing all these straight lines really tested my Sharpie skills – nerve wracking but well worth it!

One of our junior playtesters gives Jack a check-up. We were surprised (and impressed!) that most of the kids knew what the blood pressure monitor was!

An early prototype of the dollhouse – it used to have a pointed roof and kitchen instead of a bathroom. We decided to go with the bathroom because we know potty training is top of mind for this age group, and we’re always fans of teachable moments!

I was hunting for an apartment for my own as I was designing Robin’s dollhouse – so I gave Robin all the features I was looking for in my own place (including that dreamy clawfoot tub).

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

Hope you enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes peek at the pillow design process – while not always glamorous (ask me how many Sharpie-stained clothes I have now!), it’s always fun.

Check out the Pillow Playsets on Kickstarter.

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