The story of LaQ starts 25 years ago, with its invention in Nara, Japan, by Mr Hiroshi Kichijo. It is said that the Kichijo Family have resided in Nara for over 400 years. The 200 year old residence in which the Kichijo Family live today, took 15 years to build with the finest architectural technology of the early 1800’s and is recorded as a historical site in the area of Oyodo Nara.
As young Hiroshi grew up with the family background of having a very old family history in Nara and residing in a house built from traditional Japanese wooden architectural skills, he had the opportunity to see these skills on a daily basis. These traditional skills and other traditional Japanese philosophy would become an inspiration to his inventions.
Much of the family's wealth had been spent on modernising the town and area, as part of their obligations as a distinguished family. Young Hiroshi grew up to become a very creative person, as his mind was set on finding an invention, or a method, to reconstruct his family fortune and business. His philosophy was to create something completely unique, useful and entertaining that no one has ever seen, surprising people with his innovative ideas.
The invention of the innovative block LaQ was only possible due to several Japanese inspirations. The culture of recycling, traditional Japanese architecture that Hiroshi had been exposed to, a rolling pair of dice, and finally a bowl of Japanese Udon noodles.
LaQ was invented from the philosophy of recycling precious materials such as in the traditional life style of the Japanese recycling culture. One piece of cloth for a kimono... would be reused over and over to adapt to current needs. This is the recycling culture that was common in traditional Japan (Edo period)
Old Japanese wooden houses were built without nails, but by firmly connecting wooden pillars and sliding wooden doors in a skillful manner that can only be described as architectural artwork of a master architect. Many architectural professionals agree that the skills used in old Japanese wooden architecture is perhaps the highest technical skills for wooden buildings, as can be seen in the old temples of Japan such as Hōryū-ji, the oldest wooden architecture in the world.
Japanese wooden architecture was based on connecting pillars and sliding doors at angles. Western architecture, as a contrast, Buildings were made by stacking in brick and mortar style.
Hiroshi spent much time thinking about these questions - Would it be possible for a block to connect from various planes at various angles, similar to how each face on a die has a number? How would it be possible to make a block part that is flexible enough to create various shapes? Would it be possible to create a sphere from block parts?
The final inspiration was due to the inventor's fondness of eating Japanese Udon noodles. The noodles are flat and wide, so they flex and curve as you are eating them. The idea struck, that if a block part was flat, it would be more flexible and easier to handle than “brick type” blocks.
As you can see, there is a very unique story behind how LaQ was created back in 1993, which weaves in many Japanese inspirations. The curiosity and imagination behind its invention, resonates in the LaQ toy itself.
The philosophy behind LaQ is to offer families a toy that is not only fun and educational, but a toy that can be enjoyed by the child and parent together.
LaQ is often experienced in play events and workshops where children can play with the blocks and learn how to make models. The workshops are always filled with children and their parents busily involved in creating their artwork together. Sometimes the parents are more absorbed than the child, and we believe that when the parent is involved in “playing” as much as the child, we see great communication develop within the family, as the parent and child can discover and learn together through play. LaQ encourages children to use their imagination and creativity to the fullest by discovering ways to physically build what they see in their creative minds
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