industrial design

Kengo Kuma, the renowned architect known for his meticulous work with wooden structures, has utilised his knowledge in analogical joints to create a Japanese counterpart to Lego, named Tsumiki.

Meaning wooden blocks, this creative toy is only composed of minimal triangular cedar wedges — the prime geometry that’s most structurally stable. The wedge, however, trades its base for notches on its two legs, giving flexibility when connecting and stacking multiple pieces together.

Kuma’s Tsumiki comes in three different sets: 7, 13, and 22 pieces. They all form a house-like appearance within the packaging, with a singular slit in the front to showcase the cedar textures and colours to intrigue one’s curiosity. The decision to make the outer cover a tone of cool grey instead of white elevates the product’s value, promising a quality that’s premium yet approachable. Using a minimal graphic of three stacked wedges as the product’s logo, the designer cleverly replaces lengthy instructions with a more subtle and comprehensive image.

While I appreciate a lot of Kengo Kuma’s architectural work, the Tsumiki has a very unique strength of its own, being an educational toy that transcends many ages. In a way, Kuma’s approach has opened up a conversation between the architect and his/her audience through a different medium, and it has a lot of potential for the field in the future.

You can pick up Tsumiki on More Trees.

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