Creation of the Snapazoo by Ross Miller:
Once upon a time I discovered a cool snap installation press in a friend's design studio in NYC's garment district. Soon I started attaching snaps to whatever I could find - folded cardboard, crunched up foam, soft plastic, fabric. What a fantastic device. I kept going, folding, installing snaps, first making geometric shapes, then trapezoids became odd fuzzy blobs, and slowly recognizable creatures started to emerge. A pair of snaps looked like eyes, and with scissors I shaped left-over fabric bits into feet, ears or a tail.
Months went by as I filled a small studio with hundreds of shapes that folded-up to make a frog, bear, owl, fox, or elephant.
From these prototypes I began to discover a new idea: one sculptural form that could be snapped, un-snapped, the snapped-up again to create multiple creatures. Genetically related shapes, yet with very different personalities.
This idea of re-configuration, simple folding and snapping from flat form to topologically complex shape, engaged my curiosity. I made more and more, and started giving them away, having fun watching kids and adults explore and play with what became the first Snapazoos.
The original Snapazoo Factory was set up in an old Rug cleaning warehouse and artist loft building in Allston, Massachusetts. Friends, and then a few employees, helped set up the hydraulic cutting machine, trip hammer snap installers, and we started shipping Snapazoos around the world. Many shape variations were first made during lunch breaks > Karen folded up the lobster, Christina discovered a seahorse, and Basil a bird.
Kids worte letters describing strange
animals they had invented.
Benjamin made a ringtail
sitting on a branch:
Tiffany made a flying bear
with a secret pouch:
I hope Snapazoo is a toy that will inspire creativity (sometimes a limited set of choices is a good starting point for discovering new form).
Over the years Snapazoo has been hacked and used as a tool: one late night Margaret Minksky brought a group from her haptic interface lab to play; for a MIT Media Lab project JT Nimoy developed an early digital Snapazoo interface.
People sometimes ask if they may produce Snapazoos for their own use. The concept & design is protected by mechanical and design patents, copyrights, registered trademark, and years of good will. Quality and design integrity is important, please contact me with questions, and we may explore options.
The Snapazoo® was originally created in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Snapazoo® toys have been produced under license in:
Japan (AG industires, and Laughtoys)
United States (ProCreation, Inc., and Freemountian Toys)
Switzerland, France and England (Naef Toys)
Snapazoo® is being re-introduced, please contact us
for more information: email.