ZOOP toy cooperative
A collaboration with Rachel Simpson and Rowan Liivamagi

Zoop Toy Cooperative is a project that addresses the issue of toy consumption. The project mandate called for a service design that would help minimize the toys thrown away and bought new from the store. Through co-creation with four 5 and 6 year olds from False Creek Elementary, an interface for trading and sharing toys was conceived. Zoop is a mobile cooperative that functions like a library in that the kids could trade a toys every week. Through this activity, community would be fostered, and kids would be taught of new ways of thinking about ownership.

/ (1 of 1)

Compartive Impacts Graph

As a class, environmental impact data was collected for six different childrens’ toys. Essentially, Okala Millipoints is a quantitative system of measuring how much impact a product has on our environment. This data would later be used for comparison with our term design projects. The goal was, of coarse, to design a system or toy that could have a much lower impact.

For communication sake, the impact of the toys shown below are relative to each other. As you can see, the Playmobile Kit has the most impact. (mainly because it has to travel a far way from the place it is manufactured)

The Co-Designers

Kai, Aleksander, Emma and Fabiana (left to right) were our co-designers at False Creek
Elementary. Our design team had five sessions with the youngsters. Each session consisted of activities that we designed to gain creative input for our project.

Active Interviews

Aleksander, playing the “favorites” game. An action interview we devised in order to converse with the co-designers as a form of play. We soon realized that playful interaction was the only way to create a comfortable environment for dialogue.

Cultural Probes

We assembled kits for each of the children to take home, which included a camera with a list of photographs to take. (Including “yourself”, “your toys”, and “where they are stored.”) Details of the children’s lives became immediately evident.

Role Playing Session

In order to test how the children share and exchange toys, we designed a role playiing session. They responded by inventing their own system at the “store” we built.


While the children told us that they were not interested in toy exchange, they responded with excitement when presented with an engaging interface by which to trade the toys.


During the 5 sessions we had with the kids, we found that they reacted differently with experience than discussion, that they play together rather than alone, and that they own many more toys than they play with each week.

Preliminary Concepts

Based on findings from our co-design research, early design proposals included toy workshops, toy libraries and a toy co-op with a component online as a parallel toy life. These concepts were imagined through experience scenarios.


The ideas we worked with previously with the toy library and toy co-op developed with a mobile component. The concept was developed further through a series of storyboards. The final iteration of the storyboards are shown here.

Form Development

As the concept of the Toy Co-op moved closer to a mobile vehicle we started developing form to follow the kind of experience we were trying to create for children.

Experiential Vocabulary

In relation with creating a fun experience for kids, we developed a sort of visual identity for Zoop. The theme board takes cues from the adventure of going to the circus or the excitement of seeing the ice cream truck arrive in the neighborhood.

System Development

Shown here is a schematic of the components in the system. It is possible to see how they relate and connect to each other. On the right demonstrates the interactive toy-return chute which uses RFID technology to identify toys and to offer fun sensory feedback for kids.

Imagining details of where and when Zoop would arrive in thecontext of the False Creek community helped us develop a more concrete understanding of the mobile component of the system.

Visualization of Concept

Final renderings of the exterior space. Shown above are some possibilities of the expanding canopy in different suburban areas. The canopy itself creates an extended physical space for entering the mobile. As well, it encourages people to gather and interact. Practically, it also weatherproofs the space, which is especially important in Vancouver, BC.