I am a toy designer. Not currently. Currently I design other stuff, but like a lawyer who went to law school but doesn’t practice law is still a lawyer, I am still a toy designer. I have my degree in Toy Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. I got that degree at some point shortly before the turn of the century. How old does that make me sound? About as old as I felt at the Toy Design Alumni event I went to today at FIT.
I was reminded of the creative energy that lived like a cloak all around us in those days. The intensity with which we immersed ourselves in our work- positive that we were going to make a tremendous impact on the world, have careers doing whatever we wanted. Being allowed- no- encouraged….no- FORCED to think as creatively and fantastically outside the box as we were capable of doing…. pushing ourselves harder than we thought we were capable of working, and feeling like it meant something- what a muchtastic time that was. Made me want to go back and take the whole program all over again.
So, I no longer work in the Toy Industry, and went to this event alone, knowing I’d know very few people there. I suppose I technically went to “network” but that wasn’t really it. I went because I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and remind myself what is going on beyond the walls of my house, my office, and the bus ride that shuttles me between the two. I went because the founder of the program, Judy Ellis, created it 21 years ago as the first Toy Design Degree program in the country and that is an inspirational testament to the power of what you can do when you put your mind to it. There is a mantra she brought to us as students, and I remember it clearly: “Leap and the net will appear.” It is one I often think of when I am at a crossroads- afraid of the challenges and risks that lie before me, but unable to stand on the ledge, insecure and afraid any longer. I wanted to see her and thank her for the gift she gave me of knowing that I am capable of more than I may give myself credit for.
But I didn’t really know how to say it.
Especially since I am currently feeling like I am on the ledge, feeling fearful and insecure, looking as hard as I can for that net before I leap… and not yet willing to leap and trust that it will, in fact, appear.
I’ll get there. I’ll leap.
In the meantime, I think I’m gonna send Judy a Muchness Band with her Mantra on the inside. Because spreading The Muchness is My Muchness and I know she’ll like it.
OK- so, there’s more. So, they redid the whole Toy Design space since I was a student and the place is so friggin Muchtastic.
There is a Fabric library for making stuffed animals that is encased in a glass wall, meticulously organized by gradient color:
There are crazy oval windows between the rooms that just lend a playfulness to the whole space:
There is a wall of toys designed by past alumni in a lounge that is connected to the main room- Oh, how I would have loved to chill in there on nights when we worked to dawn.
But, for me, best of all, there was a fantastic LED lighted ceiling that changed color. Just like my muchtastic wall at home. It kind of felt poetic to me- that the place that helped me discover my own creative inspiration has found inspiration in the same way that I now find it every day. Here’s a little video of it in action!
Wanna learn more about the Toy Program at FIT? Check It Out!