Soft toys designed by children to help children

Perhaps in a child’s mind, the more arms a soft toy has, the better it is at hugging; the bigger the ears, the better that cosy friend is at listening; and rainbow-coloured fur… that’s just how a happy soft toy should be.

So who better to ask to co-create a special collection of soft toys than our most imaginative and youngest customers? And the best part — their dream soft toys would help make dreams come true for children in need through the annual Soft Toys for Education campaign.

As with previous years, for every soft toy or children’s book sold in an IKEA Store in November and December, the IKEA Foundation will donate one euro to children’s education through UNICEF and Save the Children. However, what was different this year was that 10 of the soft toys in the campaign were also designed by children.

“Our approach is always from the child’s perspective. So we were curious about what a soft toy would be if a child could decide on their own,” says Cindy Andersen, Business Area Manager for Children’s IKEA at IKEA of Sweden AB  . “Also, what could be better than children helping other children?”

IKEA of Sweden held a Soft Toys Drawing Competition and received thousands of wonderful contributions from children around the world. The 10 winning designs were produced and sold as a limited collection during the Soft Toys for Education campaign that kicked off November 2015.

All winners' sketches and final products, image 3

“Picking the winners was a difficult — but very fun and inspiring — exercise,” says product developer Bodil Fritjofsson product developer at IKEA of Sweden, adding that there were many factors to consider, such as materials available at IKEA suppliers, our own strict health and safety standards, and costs. Plus, the designs couldn’t be a copy of something that already existed.

Our approach is always from the child’s perspective

“We also wanted these soft toys to have truly unique facial expressions, features, proportions and colours,” Bodil says. “Something an adult could not have created.”

With this unique collaboration — the first time IKEA product developers has co-created with IKEA  customers — IKEA of Sweden  hoped to inspire more people to buy IKEA soft toys and to participate in the campaign, which has helped raise 77 million euro for 11 million children since 2003.

“It’s wonderful to see how one child (or 10) can make a huge difference. We believe having a product range created for children, by children, will generate an even bigger donation from the IKEA Foundation to our partners UNICEF and Save the Children,” Bodil says. “Then we can enable even more children to get an education.”

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