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|Welcome to the 26th issue of B.|
Recently, I had an interview with a daily paper on the topic of how to read trends. Some people describe our company as a group that takes on very trendy initiatives, but I actually have a slightly different idea on the definition of trend. Looking at many successful services and brands, including those based on mobile technologies or the Internet, I think most of them start from an understanding of human nature. Social network and messaging services reflect the human desire to be able to share one’s thoughts with others anywhere, anytime. Digital characters with facial expressions were developed to allow one to express one’s feelings as precisely as possible. Replacing libraries, search engines were launched to satisfy the need for easy access to the greatest amount of information possible. It seems like all the successful services have, in fact, taken their inspiration from human nature.
Trend-leading brands have one thing in common: they emphasize the importance of truly understanding people’s fundamental needs and desires, and from there, they gain insight which they combine with advanced technology and means of expression. Perhaps this is closely related to how Steve Jobs once described Apple as “technology married with the humanities” at the end of one of his speeches.
All people get only one chance at childhood, adolescence, and adulthood before they reach old age and, someday, disappear. Therefore, it is natural for people to have a deep desire to spend and share a happy, healthy life with someone they love, and this desire will not change as long as humans exist on this planet.
This issue introduces Hansa Toys, a maker of plush animals that look very much like the real animals that inspired them. If you’ve come across a stuffed animal that seemed almost as though it could start moving anytime, it was most likely a Hansa product. Looking at a Hansa animal feels almost as if you’re communicating with a real animal. Modern technologies have allowed the company to pay close attention to expressing the variations in color and thickness of the fur and to analyze the way muscles wrap around an animal’s skeleton—all with the aim of creating animals that are lifelike. And while the prices of their products may seem expensive for stuffed animals, their pricing is based on a detailed, rational method of precisely timing the number of hours that workers put into each one. Also notable is the founder’s philosophy of coexistence with the local community in the Philippines where the Hansa Toys factory is located.
Brilliant interaction services for smart devices will continue to evolve, but people will not stop being curious about the flora and fauna that live alongside them on earth. Instead of wondering about trends in the global toy industry, perhaps it would be better to seek out the current trend behind the enthusiasm that has driven Hansa Toys to focus on capturing the expressions and gestures of their animals as accurately as possible.
Publisher Suyong Joh
A glimpse at the living animals on the other side of the cage, and outside the window. Face-to-face with nature, B imagines a life coexisting alongside it.
26 INNER SPACE
B divided and looked into Hansa product lines according to the characteristics that define them.
Several other brands are making plush animals similar to Hansa Toys’. But they show very different design directions even when they take the same animal as a motif.
Hansa plush animals are characterized by their realistic features. They are more than just toys and are also used for decorating homes and commercial spaces.
60 TOYS AS DECORATIONS
B went to multi-brand lifestyle stores all across the world, looking for other objects that straddle the border between toy and decorative object.
64 DIFFERENT ROOTS
Lifestyle brands have widened the spectrum of decorative items with stuffed animals embodying a variety of concepts.
For stores selling Hansa, the brand’s products hold a greater significance than those of any other toy brand. Hansa plush animals serve to clearly demonstrate brand and store identity.
Many people collect images and items featuring an animal they are strongly attached to. B looked into these animal-themed collections.
81 B’S CUT
From time to time, they almost seem to be the very image of reality.
96 BRAND STORY
Hansa Toys began in 1972 as an educational toy brand for preschool-aged children in Australia. Hans Axthelm, the founder, made a breakthrough by introducing something the saturated toy market had never seen: realistic, life-size plush toys.
Behind the success of Hansa Toys lies the human desire to reach out to other living beings. B looked for images of reality hidden in daily life.
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