Sunderland student overcomes health problems to launch pop-up toys business

A design student from the city’s university is using his creative skills to create pop-up space saving toys for children.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 1:10 pm

As part of his new business venture, David Green is using the pop-up technology pioneered in children’s books to create space saving games, castles and dolls houses.

He said: “Everyone is now getting access to less space, especially when renting. Sometimes you have families with two or three kids in a space less than 36 square metres and that’s becoming more common.

"From there I got the idea of designing children’s toys like dolls houses and castles, because that’s what my mum built for me and my sister when we were growing up. But they’re big space commitments.

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MA Design student David Green with some of his original pop-up toy designs. Photograph: David Wood

"I just love to create. An idea pops up in my brain and it’s great to see what develops - I can literally design anything using this technique.”

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David devised the idea following the success of pop-up furniture ranges developed by companies such as IKEA.

David, 27, added: “I was inspired to get into this field after I did a project where I designed furniture for micro flats, while studying my undergraduate degree. I designed a display unit that pops up in less than a minute and uses much less material than the current standard, so it’s sustainable too.

"I believe this engineering technique will grow in popularity into the future as our living environments become smaller and we’re looking to create more space.”

To launch his new enterprise David has also had to overcome numerous health problems including postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) - an abnormal increase in heart rate which can cause seizures and black-outs.

However since his diagnosis, he has now been placed on the correct medication to control his condition and is now taking part in the university’s Digital Incubator programme to support graduates in harnessing their skills to set up their own businesses.

David said: “I had been thinking about going self-employed for a while due to my health. Sometimes I would black-out for multiple hours a day, so it looked like I would be unable to work.

"However, since getting better and starting my masters degree, one of my tutors recommended the Digital Incubator and it has really helped me to focus on where I’m going and the direction that my business will take.”

The talented engineer is now looking to further develop his pop-up technology to be harnessed in building design models.

Paul Graham, senior lecturer at the University Enterprise Zone Digital Incubator, said: "David has gained funding from the Digital Incubator and Santander Bank and is now actively looking for commission from businesses who would like fold away models of their buildings or company headquarters created.

“David has been a member for six months and has really worked hard on his business and has attended over 50 hours of workshops so far.

“These workshops support our members on topics such as opening a business bank account, writing a business plan, understanding emotional intelligence and how to pitch for work."

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