Euan Lind: 3D Designer & Inventor of Captivating New Construction Toy STEMZ - tBR Person of the Week
How did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
It rains a lot in Scotland which happens to be great weather for inventing. Thanks to my Mum, some of my earliest and happiest memories are of the patter on our tent during summer holidays, as she always packed a pillowcase full of Lego. I’ve been obsessed with making things ever since.
I studied painting and went on to teach English and art at a school in Denmark where the prominence and beauty of Scandinavian design inspired a change of direction. I returned to Edinburgh where I worked as a classroom assistant while studying a Masters in Design.
I’m fascinated with maths and geometry and my work centres on the search for interesting new forms and/or methods of building them; an area of study sometimes referred to as “Form-Finding”. STEMZ started out as one such exploration, and it was only really when I shared it at Maker Faires and saw how children reacted that I knew I’d created a toy.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
The MD of our former UK and EU distributor described our first product Stems in 2018 as “the first new construction toy in 20 years” before helping us sell over 15000 units identical to our very first prototype. New STEMZ connects with the same satisfying snap but introduces square and triangular pieces for a more comprehensive building experience. Whether it’s our “claim to fame” we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime my 9 year old daughter thinks I’m famous so I’ll settle for that.
In terms of my wider design work shortly after graduating I was selected to exhibit and sell editions of my final project at Christie’s and Pierre Berge auction houses. I was happy to leave the world of high end design for the more accessible and fun world of Toys but these pieces were a joy to make.
What are you working on now?
After a year dominated by the pandemic we’re excited to be back with the launch of new STEMZ which is currently our main focus.
I’ve also got a few other STEMZ related developments in the pipeline. The most exciting by far came from a simple insight from my daughter during lockdown. I don’t want to give too much away just yet but it works brilliantly, bringing a whole new level of kinetic and mechanical fun to STEMZ.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had a school summer job in the last full service gas station in town where I was proud to eventually learn how not to spray petrol on customers’ trousers.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Kitchen Table Nerve Centre.
What is the most rewarding parts of your job?
I would have said “Getting to meet and work with so many enthusiastic and talented people”, and fingers crossed it will be again soon. Although working from home has been a challenge thanks to all the support from my family it’s also been hugely rewarding. What problem are you still trying to solve?
How to get my daughter to say something other than “not much” when I pick her up from school, and how to talk to her about something that I’m excited about without her getting bored out of her mind. For example...
I recently came up with a mechanical solution for determining absolute direction from the relative rotation of a vehicle’s right and left wheels. I thought I’d invented something new only to discover I’d still been working on it a mere 1800 years after it was solved by a mechanical engineer called Ma Jun from ancient China. I’m still refining a method for determining X/Y position along with direction.
What excites you?
Nerdy geometry chat with ma pals.
How do you define creativity?
A life force that like life itself refuses to recognize any borders.
What words describe how you think or how your brain works?
I try to stay as curious and open as possible. When focussed on solving a creative problem or when painting or sculpting I’m patient to the point of being stubborn.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Where were you born?
Dunfermline- The ancient capital of Scotland and former home of Robert the Bruce and Malcolm Canmore. The local area is now probably better known globally as being where Outlander is filmed. It’s still just like that though most of us now have broadband.
Who is the person you most admire?
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
For me, the main enemies of creativity are the tightening that stress can bring and actually having too much time. Getting outside and active in the morning is often the best way to be more decisive, productive, and not sweat the small stuff for the rest of my working day.
When was the last time you laughed out loud?
My 9 year old daughter and I laugh a lot- often to the point we can’t remember why we started. She’s just discovered she can do a really good impression of a baby goat which this evening was all we needed.
What’s in your fridge?
Pears and Champagne.
Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar and sing. My Dad’s a Scottish folk singer so I’ve picked up some songs from him. He’s always been musical but was actually a mathematician and management consultant until his early 40s, when he came home from work one day and announced a change of career. It was a brave decision which led to a life he loves. It’s funny as the older I get the more fascinated I am with maths and its creative potential- it sometimes seems we’re on parallel paths in opposite directions.
What music are you listening to now?
Cerys Matthews’ Sunday morning show on BBC 6 Music.
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
The details on the front of their heads.
What is the last time you did something for the first time?
This time! My first interview for POP.
What are your favorite books?
I mainly read children’s books these days- My daughter and I are big Julia Donaldson fans and we’re also currently enjoying a poetry anthology for children. My favourite authors include Michael Frayne, Julian Barnes and Paul Auster.
What is your favorite night out?
Under current restrictions a Fish Supper from the Alandas fish and chip van and a socially distanced walk in the sunset on beautiful Longniddry beach is a highlight. As luck would have it, I’m pretty happy with that.
I’m lucky that…
I’m able to make a living doing what I love.
Send this to Mary before it’s too late I guess!
If there’s anything else you’d like to know please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org !