Make:Shift:Do – Replay with The Great Recovery - RSA

Make:Shift:Do – Replay with The Great Recovery

Fellowship events / Public talks / Research & Impact Event / Seminars


Fab Lab London

  • Circular economy
  • Creative economy
  • Design

As part of the Crafts Council’s Make:Shift:Do programme of events, join us and toy designer Erin Deighton for a day of play – remaking and rethinking our relationship with toys.


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Old toys and games evoke particular memories, triggering the senses to recall smells, textures and emotions. We have all had our favourites, but with the ever growing volume of must-have, new products on the shelves has some of the lustre vanished, or is it just buried under an avalanche of Frozen accessories?

During this day at Fab Lab London we’ll get hands on in the lab to bring old toys and games back to life, adding new value and stories to lost treasures, investigate how products become imbued with emotions, and talk about why grown-ups and kids alike are fascinated with collecting toys.

Who is the day for? 

Suitable for the young and young at heart!

What should I bring? 

Come along your memories, nostalgia and a sense of adventure…and any beloved or broken toys in need of a new lease of life.

Game plan:

11am – Industry and Play Patterns

Erin Deighton and Ed Nattrass will provide an insider’s perspective on the toy industry, our obsession with the new, and the importance of ‘play’ for children and adults alike. Focusing on the perennially popular spinning top, he will demonstrate the use of 3D printing for making your own toys and objects, and will give examples of how we can make our playthings more personalised and longer lasting.

12pm: Re-Animator Toy Mash-up

Ed Nattrass, will help you to bring your old toys to life, creating new hybrids from old DNA!

Leader Board

Top Gear eat your heart out: throughout the day you will be able to champion and vote for your favourite toy or game with our specially curated Leader Board!

1pm –  lunch

2pm – Nostalgia, Stories and Collecting Toys

Erin will address the psychological aspects of toy collecting and play, exploring the links between traditional hand-crafted methods and new digital forms. He will lead a session in laser-etching QR codes for your toys to create an online Cabinet of Curiosities. Memories and stories can be built into blogs and uploaded, generating a collaborative digital museum that traces the object’s history and relationship with its owner, from manufacture and inception to the present day. These stories increase our sense of belonging and attachment, in turn giving the toy the opportunity of greater longevity – and reducing its chances of ending up on the rubbish heap!

3pm – Playtime!

This is your opportunity to pursue your chosen activity for a little while longer: pick Erin or Ed’s brains on the business of making and selling toys and the future of play in a more circular economy; talk to the Great Recovery or Fab Lab London teams; get to grips with 3D printing and laser cutting your own toys of the future; get cutting and sticking the old-fashioned way; or simply enjoy having the run of the Lab to fulfil your playtime fantasies!

4pm – Close



At Christmas time, families in the UK spend around £180 on toys for the average child. But 41 per cent of these are broken or lost within three months. The Great Recovery’s first design model for a circular economy is about longevity: designing things intentionally to last a long time, so that they don’t have to be thrown away. Our emotional attachment to an item and its perceived value influences its lifespan. Toys and their emotional connections offer a unique window on the relationships we have with the products all around us, join us to discuss what we can learn from these relationships when we seek to design for longevity.

Image: woodleywonderworks via Creative Commons