Gifts for Grown-ups, Inspired by a Toddler

As our last ordering deadlines for holiday gifting arrive this week, there are still lots of unique, beautiful objects available in our fastest-to-ship material: strong and flexible plastic. One shop in particular offers a selection of delightful gifts that fit the material perfectly, whether you want to print a pack of exotic animals on digital safari, a friendly robot who just wants to show his love, or totally unique, futuristic jewelry. Australian architects Elena Low and Kae Woei Lim of XYZ Workshop are the creative minds behind designs that live at the intersection of art, sculpture, technology, and playful fun. They shared some of their surprising influences with us.

Sitting Robbie by XYZ Workshop

Sitting Robbie by XYZ Workshop

Robbie the Robot and the Digital Safari are the most whimsical of XYZ Workshop’s characters, revealing the designers’ biggest source of inspiration — their toddler. “Our son, who is now now four years old, plays a pivotal role to influence a sense of playfulness in our work.” The husband-and-wife pair say they “spend a lot of time playing with him and his toys, reading beautifully illustrated children’s books. This takes your mind to a wonderful childlike space and allow you to indulge in pushing more whimsical ideas and let go of the day-to-day reality.”

Digital Safari - Giraffe (Medium) by XYZ Workshop

Digital Safari – Giraffe (Medium) by XYZ Workshop

Kae Woie and Elena launched XYZ Workshop in 2013, tinkering with a kit-made 3D printer from Ultimaker. Drawn in by “the potential of 3D printing as it fused aspects of art, sculpture and technology, their mission is “to create something beautiful, pragmatic, yet playful all in one.”

Thin Lena Bracelet - Medium (Strong and Flexible) by XYZ Workshop

Thin Lena Bracelet – Medium (Strong and Flexible) by XYZ Workshop

When it comes to modeling the pieces, the designers’ architectural experience has given them a solid basis in technique. “There is a rigor in thinking which is a balance of practicality and aesthetic. I believe we still apply this in our thinking in relation to 3D printing,” Elena told us. Drawing parallels with their architectural practice, she noted that “whilst ideas can be quickly converted from a sketch to a physical prototype, numerous tests are performed to achieve a response that is in line with the brief.”

Discover all of XYZ Workshop’s designs in their Shapeways shop. They make for perfectly unexpected gifts — and ideal stocking stuffers. Just remember to place your orders before our last order deadlines to bring home their whimsical creations in time for the holidays.

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