Designing children's tools the Fiskars way

Petteri Masalin

About the designer and the person

Petteri Masalin has been heading a fast expanding team of designers at Fiskars Garden EMEA for the past two years during which time Fiskars has received numerous design awards. In this interview he shares his thoughts about the development of the My First Fiskars™ range of children’s tools.

For the My First Fiskars® range of children’s tools, Petteri’s curiosity was first aroused two years ago by an issue that concerns most parents of young children – the need for durable and appealing tools of good quality that allow them to explore the outdoor world in all seasons, but particularly winter and summer.

At the time, Petteri started to ponder the issue, his son Max was four years old, growing up in an urban environment where portability and convenience were also considerations for any tool set – how do you move tools back and forth between the beach, park or the sandbox without losing them or carrying the dirt that accompanies them into the apartment?

“I tried to understand what children are doing in cities in summer and wintertime. I took a lot of photos in different places what children do in wintertime – my son was four. I tried to understand what he was doing,” explained Petteri adding: “When I was young I built snow castles – children don’t do that anymore – one reason is that the quality of the tools isn’t good enough anymore. I understood that people are willing to pay a little more for a product that doesn’t break that easily. I took photos in summer time and on different holidays in different countries and noticed that it’s the same problems every time.”

 Work in progress

Having developed working prototypes, the next phase of development involved the observations and interactions of five groups of different aged children at a Finnish kindergarten. These were interviewed and using video cannons, allowed to vote on the Fiskars prototypes versus traditional children’s tools as well as choosing the right colours and sizes of the tools.

Petteri explains: The first prototypes were quickly developed to match the needs and wishes of these kindergarten user groups. The children showed us ways of using the tools that we hadn’t thought about. There were a million, million things they came up with.”

Most importantly, Petteri reflected many of the products design needs in the one and a half years that his son Max used the tools, almost daily: “The products have applications from an early age right up to age seven. I wanted to develop the kind of products that last, that my boy is happy using – ones made from good quality materials with lots of functionality in the back – the kind that children can exploit to find new ways of using them.”

Developed by children for children

Petteri continued: “It’s great to see how kids use these things and understand what children want and how they play. This range was designed almost 100 per cent by children – Max told me that he wanted an award for the product because he has been so involved. 

Petteri points out that while the tools are almost exclusively by and for children, the box returns to the issue that first set him to consider a range of tools for children. He explained that the box is big enough to fit other toys or for example a water bottle inside and with its strap fits nicely on a stroller or pram. In bad weather, it also allows parents to sit on the upturned box when their children play.

Aside from the box set, Petteri pointed out that the range of stick tools were a revamp of existing Fiskars products:  “We simply changed the working heads and revised the handles to better match the hand position and ergonomics of young children, switched to aluminium shafts for strength and lightness and incorporated safety into their design – that they are strong enough to be working tools, but still safer in young hands.”

Investing in imagination

Many parents might stop to consider the price of My First Fiskars® range versus the cheaper products flooding the market. Petteri argues that the greater investment is one in your children’s imagination:

“The whole idea is that children use their own imagination to create. These tools will stimulate their imagination because they are different from existing solutions. I would hope that parents also learn how to use the product differently and with imagination, also find new ways to use this product.”

For the time being, the new range is now being rolled out to the kindergarten that helped create them for further testing and observation. At Fiskars, no product stands still as Petteri’s son also points out when he says: “Dad , my playing is my work”.

 

snow tools lifestyle

Picture caption

One and a half years ago, my son started to be the ‘pilot guy’ – I could show him a picture of one of our tools and he said ‘that’s a saw’. I knew I was on the right track immediately