Designer of the Week - Adam from Tiger Tribe

Hey folks! We’re big fans of the Tiger Tribe collection here in the KID household and it’s with great pleasure today that we treat you to a little peek inside the creative mind of Design Manager, Adam Carruthers. Adam has recently illustrated Tiger Tribe’s ‘Magnificent World of ABC’ and today we have four sets to giveaway! Woohoo!

Tiger Tribe Magnificent World of ABC

Animals design by Adam Carruthers | My World design by Makoto Koji

The Product Review

The Magnificent World of ABC is a super fun and interactive way for early learners (pre-schoolers) to discover the alphabet, recognise words, and form connections between letters and sounds.

One of things I love most about Tiger Tribe is the way they package their sets in lovely cases that keep all your pieces together and can be picked up by little hands and carted off to their favourite learning spot. This set includes 80 letter magnets (upper & lowercase), 48 picture magnets, and 8 grouping cards. To use the set, you simply choose a group card, find the picture magnets that match the card, and spell out the words on the card using the magnetic letters.

As your child develops their confidence, they can practice spelling out any word they choose with their magnets. Once open, the case acts as a display easel, which assists with playtime and can also be popped up on a shelf to display your ‘words of the day’. The illustrations in this set are all kinds of cool (we dig Adam’s retro flair) and the learning experience is top rate too! Tiger Tribe are true experts at creating educational toys that entertain (no boring ‘homework’ in sight).

The verdict… A superbly stylish & fabulously fun way to learn your ABCs!

Tiger Tribe Magnificent World of ABC

The Indie Label

Tiger Tribe came to life in August 2007, driven by husband and wife team Anthony and Naomi Green. Their catalyst for starting the business was simple; They wanted to create engaging, fun and imaginative toys and activity sets that they would be happy to include in their own children’s toy box. Adam says, “This was an equally attractive proposition to me, when I came on board as Design Manager, in 2013″.

The name Tiger Tribe is a nod to director Anthony’s affectionate use of the term ‘Tiger’ when referring to children. Adam explains, “Anthony and Naomi considered the concept behind the brand and the basic premise of the products was/is to bring kids together to play – creating a tribe of tigers! It was only later that someone pointed out that tigers are solitary creatures, and don’t roam in packs….all the better! Let the brand bring these tigers together!”

The Creative Mind

Adam’s role as Tiger Tribe’s Design Manager involves overseeing artwork, co-ordinating projects with other designers, implementing branding, creating product specifications, managing production and illustrating, and designing products (phew!).

Tiger Tribe create a diverse range of products including activity sets, wooden toys, rag dolls, and magnetics (to name just a few). Adam explains, “We like to work with materials that will open up creative, independent play and imagination. Different materials work for different products. But mostly we use the same materials that have been used by generations of toy designers and makers — paper, wood, tin, fabrics and magnets. I personally enjoy designing and illustrating in a vintage style where our products reference or evoke another era”.

Adam is a dad to three little Tiger Tribe testers, Eden (6), Rylan (4) and Tessa (1); and he draws much of his inspiration from watching them play and draw. Adam says, “I really love the free-flowing spontaneity in kids drawings at an early age and try to emulate that in my own work. If I try to re-work a design it often tightens up too much and is never as good as the original”.

Tiger Tribe Design Manager Adam Curruthers

The Design Process

We asked Adam to walk us through the design process… here’s what he had to say!

First we come up with a product idea based on lots of research and what gets us excited. There is so much we want to make that we are never short of ideas — it’s more about what we have time for!

Once we have our product idea, we work closely with our manufacturer to get the right contents and materials. For instance, if it’s an activity set, should it include coloured pencils or markers? If it is a magnetic set — like Magnificent ABC – should the magnets be lightweight rubber magnets or thicker pieces on EVA foam? At this stage we are kind of reverse engineering – imagining WHAT the product will look like BEFORE it exists!

Tiger Tribe Magnificent World of ABC

Next step comes from Naomi (Tiger Tribe director). She will generally create a mood board to flesh out ideas and to use as a guide to the general feel of the products. Sometimes she will create one of her famous 50 page briefs as well! Even though we have a design team, both Anthony and Naomi (our directors) are very hands on in the product concept and design process – it’s their favourite part of the business!

For Magnificent ABC, we felt it should have a slightly educational feel with photos of old school desks and classrooms as inspiration. This inspired the integration of an ‘old school’ blackboard into the design (the magnetic display panel). And to complement this vintage feel the illustrations were to have a retro look, evoking mid century school readers and educational collateral.

For the ANIMALS design, I was also the illustrator. Initially I sketched out my ideas with a pencil, then scanned the image and trialled a few styles. I started with the crocodile design and tried it with a painterly feel and also with a flat vector feel. I decided flat graphics were giving us a stronger retro vibe, so we went with that. We then enlisted the help of Hannah (a member of our sales team, but also a qualified primary school teacher!) to create a list of possible and appropriate animals and animal groupings to illustrate from and then it was a matter of sitting down and drawing them all. The MY WORLD design was done by another one of our illustrators, Makoto Koji.

Lastly, I scanned the artwork, traced it in Adobe Illustrator and added colour and texture. We worked with another graphic designer to create the cover artwork and then sent the artwork off to get an initial sample made. Tweaks and improvements on these samples brought us to the point of production.

The Whimsical Spirit

Here’s three fun facts about Adam, in his own words:

  1. I illustrate children’s books after hours which is a real passion of mine. It’s nice to be able to work with an existing narrative.

  2. I play basketball every week and try to avoid shooting as much as possible.

  3. I think I enjoy animated movies more than my kids!

shop the collection

You view the full Tiger Tribe collection online, or find your local stockist here.

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Tiger Tribe Magnificent World of ABC


Tiger Tribe


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