The age old adage of ‘keeping things simple’ is a core philosophy of many designers. Upon reviewing the catalog of upcoming projects from Ben Blanc’s studio, it’s clear that his toys and handiwork boast simplicity coupled with classic elements of timeless style and appeal. Compelled by his work after a visit to a DUMBO, Brooklyn design store, where I came across Ben’s classic, clean, push/pull Corkels toys (made from recycled wood chip cork), I contacted Ben to ask him a few questions about the inspiration behind his creations.
Tell us a bit about the Corkels, recycled wood chip cork toys designed for DCI.
Ben Blanc: About a year ago, Décor Craft asked me to design a series of earth friendly wheeled children’s toys for a new “going green” line they were developing. The Corkels were the result. They are made from recycled wood chip and have the feel and appearance of cork, but because the material is made from a recycled source verses virgin cork we ended up with a much more sustainable design.
Where did the idea come from?
Ben Blanc: I had a brilliant set of pull toys as a child which I loved playing with. The idea seemed to naturally flow from this.
Ben Blanc: Not if you treat your Corkels well.
I found Corkels on the shelves of a design store in DUMBO, Brooklyn. How have the toys been received?
Ben Blanc: They were first introduced at the gift fair about a year ago and were well received, but have been a bit slow to take hold since — perhaps due to the economy. The past several months though, they seem to be gaining a lot of attention, which is great
Are you working on any new eco-friendly toys at the moment?
Ben Blanc: For sure… I just launched several new children’s toys, an iconic cat scratching post, and an architectural room divider for Cardboardesign. The toys are a fold up shark and puppet tv which kids can assemble, paint, draw, and play with. The exciting thing about all of these products is that they are chemical free, recycled and recyclable cardboard all made in America.