Interview - Troxes

Over the years, there is not much we haven't seen in our client's homes. However, some items we see in ALL of their homes, especially when it comes to toys & games. While there is nothing wrong with Candyland at House to Home we encourage our client's to seek out quality items that might not be so disposable. We spoke with Jonathan Bobrow about Troxes to learn more about this interesting invention.

 Troxes Origami

For the busy person, what are Troxes?

Troxes are like Origami meets Lego™. They are non-rectilinear (not square or cubic) paper building blocks. No scissors. No tape. No glue.

Note: Don’t be fooled by the paper aspect, they support over 500 times their weight and by thinking literally outside of the box, they mimic structures found in nature like the crystalline structure of diamonds and fold just like our proteins. They inspire new ways of thinking, counter to the status quo and opposed to the right angles we are all too familiar with.

What is your background, how did you create Troxes?

 Troxes Starter Kit

I grew up with an artist mother and an educator father. I have always been a passionate artist as well as math lover, leading me to study mathematics in college and later design and media arts. I applied these talents to art installations, websites, game design, product design, and interactive museum installations. Inspired by the creative humanitarian and technological efforts of Nicholas Negroponte, I decided I wanted to pursue my own interests with inventing curious devices for social change. I applied and was accepted to the MIT Media Lab. It was my first week in attendance, in a class called How To Make (Almost) Anything, taught by Neil Gershenfeld, and my assignment was to make a press-fit kit (something that would hold together without adhesives or screws) only out of cardboard. I thought it would be neat if my design not only press-fit together, but once it was done press fitting, it could press-fit once again in a modular way. I had seen something similar created by Jef Raskin in the 1970s that built from squares and I thought, what if it were based on triangles. The projects was just a first week assignment and Troxes were essentially invented at that point, however I enjoyed the process of making them so much, I decided to shrink down the design so I could make many more (like hundreds… or thousands) and continued to iterate the design on my nights and weekends. Some of the best traits of Troxes were happy accidents as well as carefully considered design.

What are some of the popular creations for Troxes?

 Troxes

The first creations that anyone makes with Troxes are typically the Platonic solids (Tetrahedron, Octahedron, Icosahedron). From there, people tend to invent their own shapes, as well as combine units together to build larger structures or figurative forms. We package a Trox Fox Kit and a Trox Penguin Kit, so those two are popular creations by design, but people always want to create their own forms. Most recently, a classroom working with Troxes was particularly determined to invent the Trox Turtle, a welcome new member of the Trox critter family and I have seen a unicorn appear on a number of occasions. Me personally, I dream of abstract and architectual designs with Troxes.

What is Move38?

Move38 is a design and game company based on my research at the MIT Media Lab. The name however, has a fun backstory, so I’m glad you asked. In 2016, one of the worlds best Go Players, Lee Sedol, faced off against a computer AI, AlphaGo, in a 5 game match of Go*. Due to its complexity and dependance on player creativity, it was once thought that a computer could never beat the best human Go players. There was only one moment in all 5 games that stirred conversation after the showdown. In the second game, AlphaGo, made a single move that no professional player predicted. It caught all of the commentators off guard, as they had never seen such a move. The move, as it turns out, was a very good one–it not only threw off Lee Sedol, but secured the win. This was the 37th move of that game and so Move38 represents the human response to playing with systems.

We believe the kinds of systems we create, participate in, and are composed of are more complex than ever before, and through new kinds of play, we can raise a generation of systems thinkers.

*Go for reference, is played on a 19 by 19 board, meaning after the first move, there are 361 possible starting positions, and when the player makes her second move there are over 46 million possible arrangements. Needless to say the complexity of the game grows factorially and there are sadly not enough atoms in the universe to represent all possible game outcomes.