Image: Puzzleware emerging from puzzle pieces. Courtesy of Maija Nygren.
Maija Nygren started knitting and crocheting at her Finnish grandmother’s knee. By the age of six, she had made her first five needle mittens at school. When she realised her own daughter had reached her third year of school in Scotland without any knitting or stitching in her classroom, Nygren decided something had to be done to preserve the textile aptitudes of the next generation.
Image: Puzzleware clothing. Courtesy of Maija Nygren.
Inspired by the pedagogical philosophies of Friedrich Froebel, and Maria Montessori, emphasising hands-on learning and real-world skills, Nygren began to marry these ideas to the design principles of the Bauhaus school: form following function, truth to materials, minimalism, and smart use of resources.
The result was ‘Puzzleware’. Formerly known as ‘Convertibles’, this is modular, DIY kidswear that was shortlisted for the prestigious Dezeen awards in 2021.
Puzzleware asks questions about the way we dress our kids, inviting them to participate, by building their own playful, woolly wearables. Its knitwear that challenges fast fashion, and the contemporary lack of interaction with our clothes to which are children are exposed. Made with knitted puzzle pieces, using a tactile tool kit Nygren supplies, the whole experience is designed to foster the key ‘STEAM’ skills of problem-solving, communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking.
Image: Puzzleware in the making. Courtesy of Maija Nygren.
The garments the children create can be repaired, extended, and worn for many years. Nygren believes that clothing, like all other material goods, should be designed to have an infinite life cycle. The puzzle pieces are knitted in her Edinburgh studio, using the softest 100% Scottish lambswool. They are durable enough to weather many years of adventures and are naturally biodegradable, leaving no plastic trace for future generations to clean up.
Image: Puzzleware ‘Just play’ kit design. Courtesy of Maija Nygren.