The Maker Mindset In-Action: Our Brilliant Product Display Hack

One thing I've learned from starting a game company from scratch is the constant need for materials, accessories and items - both physical and digital - to help that business run. Everything from product manufacturing to packaging, to business cards, catalogs, fliers, digital data systems - all of these items must be specified and procured to make the whole operation come together. Unfortunately, these formats are not always the most attractive, smartest solutions, and often produce a great deal of waste.

One of the nice things about being a designer, and a designer who operates from a maker mindset, is that you don't have to simply accept widely used formats. In fact, our commitment to both environmental responsibility and smart design requires that we often challenge the standard options and create our own. A quick example: our catalog. To save paper, we shrank the size down to a simple, 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 square. We printed our App information and terms/ordering information on separate sheets that act as inserts, so that we wouldn't have to create separately booklets for retailers, press, customers and whoever else. It's beautiful, different and saved us a whole lot of time and money.

Lately, we've been struggling with two design quandaries. One is the matter of our tile benches, which we hoped to include in our board game, but which were proving prohibitively expensive. Could we use aluminum? Stained wood? For a while we were making and painting them ourselves, which took an unsustainable amount of effort. The other issue is with displays. We need displays for our card games that are inexpensive, attractive, easy to ship, easy to assemble and consistent with the design of our brand. But we only need a relately small quantity for the time being, and the standard cardboard displays were too costly.

And then, this week at NY NOW, I figured out the solution to both at once. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely places, and this was no exception. Across the aisle from us was a seriously cool toy company, called YOXO, that makes modular cardboard pieces that slot together to make X shapes which then can be made into robots and shapes.

I'd been staring at their booth for three days already, before it hit me: we could create both our tile benches and displays using a similar slotting method. It was so incredibly simple, I didn't know why I or somebody else hadn't already figured this out! Over the course of the next few minutes, I drew up some sketches.

Turns out, this hack will save us money, materials, and look really cool. Who needs the old formats, when you can come up with your own! All it takes is the will to try something new, an openness to inspiration, and a mind for design. In short, a maker mindset.

We'll keep you updated on other na2ure hacks. What are simple solutions you've found to problems in design? How have you challenged old formats to create something better?