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Reimagining (fun)ction with the Curiosity Cart

16 May 2019

We try to inject a bit of curiosity, creativity and fun into everything we do at make:good, so were delighted to be commissioned to combine work with play to create the Curiosity Cart – a co-designed multifunctional cart providing exploratory play alongside storage.

Commissioned by Bow Arts and created for Lansbury Lawrence Primary School in East London, the Curiosity Cart has been made from 35 layers of 12mm and 24mm spruce FSC plywood, CNC cut and hand glued and finished. Injections of colour include a panel feature inspired by the incredible Peggy Angus tiled mural that adorns the school’s entrance hall.

We held co-design workshops with the school’s arts council members from across key stage 1 and 2, then took play elements taken from each child’s prototype and combined them around a basic axle and caster frame to create the final design. 13 play elements have been built into the box, all centred on interacting with sound, touch and sight. A brass and timber xylophone, backed with brass sound horns rise up the left-hand wheel arch, while an abacus sits within the right-hand wheel arch. A curved mirror chamber detail to the front of the cart creates a distorted reflection of the user peering in, while a hidden compartment reveals a surprise message for the lucky finder.

I learnt that the simplest ideas can turn into something wonderful

Arts Council student | Lansbury Lawrence Primary School

As well as students’ involvement designing the play components of the cart, our young co-designers visited the make:good studio for the day to help make finishing touches to the cart by getting stuck in with sanding. Once the cart was finished we delivered to its forever home at Lansbury Lawrence Primary School, where it is being used to provide storage for art materials. In the words of one pupil, “I learnt that the simplest ideas can turn into something wonderful and I am going to use the curiosity cart to bring joy to other people.”

Reflecting on our approach, George from make:good said: “With a building designed by FRS Yorke and now Grade II Listed, exceptional design is quite literally embedded into the foundations of Lansbury Lawrence Primary School. We wanted to match this legacy by creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary.”

“This project demonstrated the importance of collaboration in design – make:good made every step of the design process accessible”

Lucy Wheeler | Education Project Manager at Bow Arts

Lucy Wheeler, Education Project Manager at Bow Arts said: “From the outset, this project demonstrated the importance of collaboration in design – from understanding your users, sharing ideas through prototyping to innovating through testing. make:good made every step of the design-process accessible to pupils at Lansbury Lawrence, creating the Curiosity Cart that seamlessly fuses with the art and daily life of this extraordinary school.”

You can watch the mesmerising process of assembling the Curiosity Cart here.

Photos: make:good and Rob Harris