Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Industrial Design


Industrial Design

First Advisor

Soojung Ham

Second Advisor

Cas Holman

Third Advisor

Dave Yearick


Kids are increasingly plagued by what Richard Louv calls Nature Deficit Disorder; the litany of physical and mental health problems that result from lack of free play in nature. Wild Things is a modular toy system designed to inspire children to engage in nature play. Its reconfigurability allows it to vary its form to match the variety of natural forms.

Made of recycled sail material and shaped like a balloon seed pod, the central spheroid acts as a hub for a plethora of smaller forms that can be attached to it or each other via simple velcro straps. The abstract forms are designed to provoke curiosity, while providing as wide a range of play activity as possible.

Play centers around the unexpected in order to build kids’ full-body dexterity through improvisational movement. Dexterity builds creativity, as does the possibility of creating a new toy every play session. Adapting Wild Things to a new environment is a fun exercise in itself. Rewild the backyard, the woods, or the city park, and your kids will follow!


View exhibition online: John Mawhorter, Wild Things: Outdoor Toys for Nature Play



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