According to Makiko Shinoda's research on the relationship between children and their toys, great toys should leave room for sensory discovery, imagination and creativity. Unfortunately, these basic elements are not found as often in plastic toys or computer games in which form and function have been standardized these days. Yet, there are still ways to successfully combine these elements; by using a universal toy that evolves over time and with a child’s age. As the game of chess is a metaphor in which generations, cultures, ethnicities meet, Makiko Shinoda chose it for her nonuniform and plastic-free Playing with Senses Perceptible Chess Game. The new chess piece is an unconventional, cool looking set made from beeswax, wood, ceramic, bronze, and aluminum.
With this piece toddlers can use the set for building while older children can play chess with it. The pieces in the game do not look like chess pieces; they vary in weight, smell, material, form and texture and this allows the players to mould the game in whichever way they choose.
Makiko is a Japan-born, Netherlands-trained-and-based designer. Here’s how she describes her work:
"The landscape of modern society finds us increasingly disconnected from a rich sensory experience.
Smells, sounds, colours and textures are standardized, categorized and controlled in urban life; thereby eliminating all the subtle nuances and richness that exist in the nature. This contributes to a lack of imagination, communication, and spatial perception.
How can we engage and stimulate our senses in our daily lives? My point of view for design is to create a sensory experience for urban life to develop the nervous system by stimulating the brain through interaction with sensory inputs."