Creating a Game with Des Enfantillages

Geneviève Lugaz and Christian Laforge share a company, a duplex, and the happy title of parents. Des Enfantillages is the result of their professional and personal journey: an inspiring studio with a fun and poetic approach to making toys. In collaboration with BESIDE, they’ve created “Guess Who Inspires Me?”

Text—Léa Beauchesne
Photos—Eliane Cadieux

A soft autumn light filters through the windows of the Montréal studio-shop of Des Enfantillages. Geneviève is arranging the latest collection of hockey sticks near the pogo balls. Christian comes in with some new materials for making their next toy that kids will love and parents will want to show off in their living rooms. There’s nothing dizzying about the carousel of objects surrounding the creative duo. All their creations have a minimalist style that pleases children and parents alike. Design has always been part of their lives. After putting their talents into advertising for several years, Geneviève and Christian felt the need to work with their hands and decided to launch their own creative space in 2008.

They first explored paper, wood, woollen fabrics, and ropes. Then they launched into toys and parenthood.

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A whole world opened up to them as their unique creations quickly found many admirers, both young and old. More recently, they met with BESIDE’s Creative Director, Eliane Cadieux, to design their first board game.

L'équipe de Des Enfantillages à une table regardent des échantillons de matériaux pour un jeu

Geneviève, what is the key moment that led to your life as artisans?

We’d been living and working in Québec City for a few years when one day I took a bookbinding workshop in a Montréal studio. During the workshop, I asked myself, “Why isn’t this our life? Why don’t we have a studio so we can work on our projects and commit ourselves to them in a vibrant, inspiring space?” We came back and have lived in Montréal for eight years now.

How did the studio project become Des Enfantillages?

It was cool to work together on our projects in our studio, but Des Enfantillages really came out of the objects we made for our children or for children’s birthdays. I designed skipping ropes for my daughter’s birthday; we made pompom slingshots for another birthday, and the children helped out. In fact, I’ve always done this with my own mother. Since I was young, we’ve made a thousand different things together. One day, we upholster a sofa; the following week, we make floral arrangements, paint watercolours, do macramé. The first time we made objects to sell, it was for a friend’s gift shop in the Maritimes, and then it really took off in other shops and eventually online.

What do you want to contribute with your objects?

Our primary motivation is to create moments between parents and children. This influences our ideas and happens to us even without our being aware of it. We really like spending time with our children, playing with them. This naturally leads us to offer objects that parents can aesthetically enjoy and that maybe they’ll want to show off in the house. We’ve experienced this ourselves: we tend to hide toys we find less interesting and are less likely to sit down with our children to play with them.

What’s the difference between a commercial toy and one made by an artisan?

Besides the aesthetic aspect, we try to create toys that lead to “purchases made with care.” That is, thinking about what we buy and making the conscious decision to buy something because we know where it comes from and because this gives it more value. People come into our shop, they buy a toy from us, we talk, they put a face to the people who made it.

We appreciate objects more when we use them. Also, the fact that they’re durable means we can pass them on from generation to generation, which creates an emotional attachment to these objects.

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Reinventing a Classic Family Game with
BESIDE and Fabrique 1840

When they were asked to create a game, Geneviève and Christian immediately wanted it to be for the whole family. What could be better than reimagining a contemporary version of a classic game? This is how “Guess Who?” became “Guess Who Inspires Me?” But to make it work for all ages, they needed to design the game so all participants are equal.

After doing some research and concept development with BESIDE’s editorial and creative team, the artisans began the production. Some of the wood pieces are handmade by the creative duo, while other details came to life in different regions of Québec. From the small wood tokens to the illustrations, everything has been considered in minute detail.

Once all the pieces are made, Des Enfantillages carefully assembles each board game and adds the character cards. Created by illustrator Cécile Gariépy, these portraits present inspiring contemporary people who transform the world, each in their own way.

Behind every “Guess Who Inspires Me?” is the craftsmanship of ten artists and artisans.

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Guess Who Inspires Me?

An educational and inspiring deduction board game for discovering prominent people who, in small and big ways, help to make our world better. Every box comes with 2 handmade game boards, 20 character cards in inspiring colours, and 40 wood tokens.

The game “Guess Who Inspires Me?” is available in the BESIDE Cabins and offered in a limited edition from Fabrique 1840, Home of Canadian Creators.

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