Product Design

We have many creative minds at work in our in-house design department. A lot of sketching, designing, experimenting and testing takes place before our designers as well as our product managers are totally satisfied with the various new toys and children’s room accessories. “It’s not some kind of magic trick but rather creative work,” explains designer Ines Frömelt. Many months go by before a new product reaches the manufacturing and marketing stages. The designs are first demonstrated, discussed and optimized. When everyone responsible has agreed on the appearance of the product, the price is calculated and the engineering department is asked to come up with the technical drawings. Several prototypes are constructed (or possibly sewn), which then do the rounds to the different specialist in each department. These include the photo studio, the package design team and our advertising agency. Because running parallel to the production of new toys, we also have to design the packaging and brochures for our dealers and customers. For this, we need a selection of photos and texts in six languages. These will subsequently be used by the package designers as well as the print and online graphic artists for their respective media. So as you can see, it’s a long journey from the initial concept in the design department to the final product.

With your permission, our design team would like to introduce themselves:

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Matthias Böck

I studied Product Design in Hannover and have now been working in the HABA family of companies for the past eleven years. I have designed all the products in the HABA Terra Kids range. My duties also include working in other divisions of the HABA family of companies, for example designing outdoor play equipment.
I get my inspiration from my own children, from research and from putting in a great amount of hard work. The thing that makes HABA so special is that we take children seriously.

My favorite product is the Terra Kids carving knife. That’s because it is made for children but at the same time is not a toy. It is designed and manufactured so that it can serve as a life-long companion and even be passed on to the next generation.

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Anna Lena Filipiak

I am have a degree in Design and have been working at HABA since September 2010. I studied at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle an der Saale. I specialize in wooden and fabric products for babies and toddlers as well as producing illustrations. At the moment, I’m especially busy with the Ball Track Kullerbü.

I always keep my eyes open wherever I go – you never know what inspiration may be waiting in the most unexpected places. The best ideas often get buried in the subconscious and only surface much later when you’re doing something completely different. Exchanging ideas with my colleagues and working as a team is also very important to me. This is where detailed solutions tend to emerge spontaneously, because our individual ideas and thoughts enrich and complement each other, which then leads on to further development.

For me, the special thing about HABA is that we have the children in our minds and in our hearts, which is something you can see in our products. They are lovely to look at, great to play with and safe to use. Simply HABA!

My favorite product is the Lighthouse stacking game, because it’s such a beautifully simple concept yet so colorful. The rounded pivots on the blocks are immensely helpful to very small children making their first attempt at stacking. In addition, it’s great fun knocking the lighthouse over and rebuilding it again and again.

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Ines Frömelt

After leaving school with my Abitur certificate and embarking on a brief apprenticeship in carpentry, I studied at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle an der Saale. Since joining HABA in 1993, I’ve been involved in the design of virtually the whole product range: clutching toys, arrangement games, stacking games and pegging games. My main focus is on dolls, hand puppets and doll accessories. But I’ve also designed accessories for children’s rooms as well as melamine tableware. My favorite HABA product? I like the Fantasy Blocks and the Rainbow Whirls pegging game. I’m also very fond of individual doll characters such as Mali, Rubina and Imke. However, working on Kullerbü und Little Friends is especially important to me.

Ideas come to me while I’m drawing, watching the world go by or experimenting. I get my inspiration from ordinary things in everyday life or while I’m traveling. Reading books or the company of children always gives me new ideas.

I think that HABA combines products for children with lots of style, love and care, but also with modernity. In my work here, I find that there are almost no limits to the scope for using the experience and learning from my time at university. What makes the process so efficient is the teamwork with colleagues from different design areas. HABA is something you feel inside, almost on a philosophical level.

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Jutta Neundorfer

I studied Interior Design in Coburg, with a special focus on furniture design, and have been working at HABA since 1992. In this time, I’ve designed just about everything. At the moment, I’m mainly working on various baby products made from wood, fabric or plastic, toys for toddlers, various gift items, a wide range of mobiles and nursery decoration products, as well as rugs and lamps. I’ve also designed a kids’ bag and backpack series. I used to do a lot of work for the games editors, developing rules, designs and themes, plus I also illustrated games. Illustration is still a big part of my job.

It’s hard to say where my inspiration comes from. Sometimes, it’s a result of working on a separate project or looking at something completely different. It’s always good to keep your eyes open and acquire memories. Occasionally, I see something only briefly and don’t recognize it for what it is, but instead see it as something quite different, which I then implement as a design. Sometimes, there are also quite specific product requirements which you then have to put together as a viable economic proposition.

For me, the special thing about HABA products is the relatively high level of innovation. The proof of this is the way that other companies copy us. Also very special are the beautiful combinations of colors and materials.

My favorite products keep changing, but at the moment they are the Mobile Rainbow Balls, the Memo Board Little Birds and the Wardrobe Catch the Mouse.

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Jan Schenkel

After training as a dental technician, I studied Industrial Design in Wuppertal. Since 2001, I have been working in the HABA family of companies where I design toys for children as well as furniture, both for HABA and for other company divisions.

In the toy division, my main focus is on swings, the HABA Ball Track Rollerby and sand play items. In our creative Sun Bistro sand play series, I really feel that we have come up with something new. It is possible for children to enjoy realistic role-play games in the sandbox or on the beach, mixing up sand cake dough, baking pizza or laying out a sand garden.

I get my inspiration from playing with my own children, from other industries and from talking to my colleagues. All in all, designing is hard work.

My current favorite product is the Ball Track Kullerbü, because it combines the principle of a classic ball track with a well-thought-out play world.

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Mirka Schröder

I studied the design of play and learning materials at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle an der Saale, and I’ve been working in the HABA design department since February 2013.
I get my ideas when I play with children or watch how they deal with things – building, stacking, knocking over or using for a different purpose. I learn a lot from this, especially how to gain – or at least try to gain – an insight into a child’s view of the world. I then incorporate this into my designs for wooden and fabric products for the baby/toddler segment and also into gift items such as the various plug-in nightlights or flashlight image projectors. I was responsible for the Mini Monster series with various children’s tableware products, a stacking game, a beanbag and a doorstopper.

As I see it, HABA products combine functionality, high play value, good design and a humorous outlook on the world. What interests me most is making wooden toy products for toddlers. It gives me a lot of pleasure to create items that support those vital first experiences of play, items that place demands on children and ideally make them laugh. Not forgetting pacifier chains! They are quite tricky. They look so simple: just a few small figures and beads strung together – apparently! But you wouldn’t believe how many templates have to be made and how many tensile and impact tests a pacifier chain has to go through before it is ready for series production. Sometimes, you want to tear your hair out, but you also learn a lot in the process!

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Susanne Wagner

After studying at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences, I spent about ten months as an intern in the HABA advertising department where I wrote up my dissertation. Since 2004, I’ve been employed in the design department at HABA. I’m responsible for the Biofino Toy Shop series, the products in the Family Food Stars series, various bathroom products, gifts and rugs. I always try to remember what I myself liked as a child. That’s what I really love about this job: you can remain true to the child within you.

Since 10th November 2014, I’ve had a new source of inspiration, namely our daughter Lina. Otherwise, the ideas mostly come to you in places where you’d least expect them, for example while waiting at the supermarket checkout or while swimming 50-meter lengths in the pool. Many ideas also emerge from conversations with my colleagues. I find new cities and foreign countries really inspiring. And it gives me a buzz to think that my products (small and large) are bringing people enjoyment or making them laugh. That’s ultimately the driving force behind my creativity.

What makes HABA products so special for me are obviously the great designs and illustrations, the bright colors and the excellent quality of our wooden toys. Nobody else comes close to matching us in this regard. I especially like the fact that we develop so many new products that don’t already exist on the market. I think the designation “children’s inventors” fits well.

My favorite of all the products to have appeared recently is the baby Aircraft Swing designed by my colleague Jan Schenkel.