Designer Sophie Butchart on her plans for the multilingual learning toy, Furrlingo

Robert Hutchins

By Robert Hutchins

July 26th 2016 at 2:52PM
UPDATED July 27th 2016 at 3:41PM
Designer Sophie Butchart on her plans for the multilingual learning toy, Furrlingo

Butchart has developed the reading and learning toy as a way to encourage kids and families to learn new languages.

Can you talk us through your design, Furrlingo?

Furrlingo is an interactive electronic soft toy made from 50 per cent hemp and 50 per cent bamboo fleece. The character comes with an interactive paw that enables it to read specifically designed paw prints that activate a pre-recorded voice or your own voice.

Furrlingo comes with a read along multilingual children’s book and sticker pack. The stickers themselves are used to encourage the user to move around the homeplace or school, labeling objects and then using the soft toy to learn the words.

Where did the idea for Furrlingo come from?

Having lived in the United States for three years and the South of France for 11, I have a personal interest in languages.

Travelling is a fascinating thing and many of us go abroad and take advantage of the fact that we can speak English in other countries.

The idea for Furrlingo, a toy that helps kids learn new languages, came about after a lot of research and thought. Why do we learn languages at school to then forget them later in life?

I therefore wanted to design something that could promote language learning and give the user a reason for continuing to practice in a fun, interactive and memorable way.

What are the benefits of Furrlingo for children?

This is not only a system to teach children foreign languages, but a system to encourage the whole family to do a fun and educational activity together which everyone benefits from.

Furrlingo is not just a soft toy but also works as a reading aid for parents. Monolingual parents (or parents who know the basics of a second language) can use Furrlingo during story time to get the spoken practice they need.

Furrlingo enables the parents to feel more comfortable practicing a language at the same pace as a child – because why not? If the parents do not know how to pronounce a word, Furrlingo is there to help.

What kind of reactions have you had to the Furrlingo concept?

The reactions and feedback for Furrlingo have been great. I have received a number of positive comments from the Edingburgh college of Art degree show and at New Designers in London. I also managed to speak to a few interested buyers along the way which is a fantastic feeling.

Furrlingo is still at the prototype stage so there is always room for improvement. I have had an extremely positive response so far and will continue testing and developing the design.

So, do you see a future for yourself in toy design and will you be developing Furrlingo further?

There are many fields of design I would like to explore, but for many years now my heart has been set on being a toy designer of some sort. There is a lot of creativity in this industry.

I of course have plans to take Furrlingo further and I am looking to bring the idea to market as soon as possible for families to benefit from.

Would you ever look to take a project lie Furrlingo to Kickstarter?

I am currently looking for more funding for the project so yes, Kickstarter or Indiegogo are potential platforms I will explore.


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