Sunday 24 March 2013

Inspiration Sunday with PJ of Makedo

Anyone who reads my blog regualry will know we are big fans of imaginative play and that includes the use of makedo. I am so chuffed interview PJ from makedo today!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.... 

Paul Justin, but I like to go by PJ. I’m a Melbourne boy through and through… love this city. I am a product designer by training but tend to lace my products with a little invention. Makedo is my latest (and greatest). I love simple things that have complex outcomes. I hate things being more complex than is necessary. 

2. Where do you get your inspiration from? 

My 4 children continually inspire me. Each is a well of unlimited creative potential who challenge me daily to be better and do better. They planted the seed that became Makedo. Now there is a tree to climb, shade to sit and fruit to eat, together. 

I observe voraciously – the world and the world wide web. 

I take great pleasure in hyper-linking my way to unknown knowledge. I find that inspiration is totally contingent on the lens you view through. When I am trying to solve a problem, the solution can reveal itself anywhere - from nature, to a line of text, to an image on Pinterest or from reading a technical document. 

I use Pinterest to capture what I can. 

3. Tell us about your business...

Makedo is first and foremost an idea. It is a way of thinking about play and creativity in an unstructured way. Anything is possible and there is no right or wrong way to reach an outcome. 

As a toy company, we are designers of parts or components if you will, that help kids unleash their creativity - allowing them to make almost anything they can imagine from everyday materials around them. All of a sudden with the help of our Safe-saw, Re-pins and Lock-hinges a few cardboard boxes transform into a Dollhouse, Car or Robot.

4. What led you to start your business.... 

My own children inspired me to start my business. Every weekend, my son Ezra (then 5) would come to me with an idea of something to make. One week it was a robot costume, the next a playhouse and then a spaceship so he could fly to the moon! 

At the same time I was thinking about my kids education and was inspired by great minds like Ken Robinson, Noam Chomsky and Lev Vigotsky who highlight the importance of creativity to learning. 

I believe creativity is the currency of tomorrow and I wanted to nurture this creative thinking in my own kids. 

Frustrated with sticky tape and glue to connect things (both functionally and environmentally) I set myself a design brief to create a construction system that made it easy for kids to create anything from their imagination. I wanted a system that taught kids not what to think but how to think, a type of open-ended creativity missing from so many kids products today - and so came Makedo.

5. What does an average day look like for you?

I wake around 6:30am and with my wife spend the next hour and a half racing around getting our kids ready for school. I will then do the school drop off which is on the way to the office. 

Sitting down with an espresso, I will catch up on the overnight emails and plan out the day (which never turns out as planned). I do not have a strict rhythm so each day dances to its own beat. 

I have my head in design, sales, marketing, production and finance. My team is amazing. We are young and dynamic so things are always changing, which I love. 

A better than average day would see me in product development experimenting with new concepts, brainstorming with my very talented team, eating a home-made lunch, seeing the sky, getting inspired and Pinning all about it, thinking deeply about where to take Makedo next. 

I tend to leave work later than I should but usually get home in time to read to the kids before they fall asleep. My wife and I have dinner and catch up on the day, then tidy-up until we crash. 

6. What is the one thing about your job that makes your heart sing? 

Seeing all the incredible Makedo creations that get sent to us from kids and designers around the world and being able to share them on to our community and inspire others. I also take great pleasure hearing from all the parents and educators who write to us telling us about the real and positive impact Makedo is having on their children’s play and learning. I never quite got my head around how impactful Makedo could be so I’m both surprised and delighted by what it is doing. 

7. Share a secret with us that has never been shared online before 

I once convinced my younger sister to lend me her bike so I could turn it into a billy cart. I promised I would put it back together when I was done, but the bike didn’t quite come back together the way I had expected…oops. 

Makedo is the creation of Melbourne designer Paul Justin, who left the corporate world and set up a studio overlooking his backyard. He was inspired to invent Makedo by his young children. Wanting to nurture their creativity, Justin conceived of the idea to fuse design, creative play and sustainability. With that, Makedo was born. 

3 years later, Makedo is now stocked by Selfridges, Guggenheim Museum and The London Design Museum, Fat Brain Toys and Mindware. Makedo is the winner of coveted top US and International Parenting awards as well as top international design awards, including a Red Dot. It has been touted as the “world’s best toy” by Wired and as a creative system that makes “Lego look positively limiting” by 
design bible, Core 77. 

Check out the Makedo range and what kids around the world are making on Makedo’s website. 


  1. What an inspiring story! I love how the kids were the driver for creating this business.

  2. So awesome! And great illustration of how an idea can turn into so much more ... THANKS for this fun interview!

  3. What a fun interview! And great illustration how an idea can turn in so much more!


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