Meet the Designers

Meet the Designers – An Interview with ESNAF by Archabits

Did you ever wonder how wooden toys come to life? We had the pleasure of interviewing the Archabits team, the creators of ESNAF Wooden Magnetic Toys, who revealed the process behind their creations – trade secrets excluded. Read on to find out! 

Hi, please introduce yourself to our readers!

We are Bistra, Anastas and Deyan from ESNAF toys. We make wooden toys assembled using built-in magnets. We (Bistra and Anastas) are qualified architects but our passion for product design drove us away from architecture, although we still practice whenever a good project arises. Deyan has degrees in Languages and Business Administration and is helping us with the business side of our operation. 

The Archabits Team
The Archabits Team
How did Archabits and the ESNAF brand come to life?

Archabits is the name of our architectural firm and it was the company we created straight out of university. Since we love drawing, we were experimenting a lot in those early days. We had a lot of sketches for the toys laying around for years. Then our son was born and we decided to make them happen – this is how the ESNAF toys brand was created.

ESNAF Wooden Magnetic Toys
ESNAF Wooden Magnetic Toys. Available in our online shop
What is the creative process behind your products? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everything starts with a theme – whether it is a popular fairy tale or some geographical anchor, our collections always have a certain storyline in which each toy needs to fit. Then we spend a lot of time on the sketches which are 100% original – you won’t find elsewhere any of our animals looking the same way as we draw them. Then we move on to working the wood – yes, we do that ourselves too but we won’t reveal the process in detail as it is a trade secret :-).

Behind the scenes with ESNAF
What materials do you use for the ESNAF collection and where do you source them?

Our toys only contain various types of woods and magnets. The essence of our brand is not in the complexity of the materials, on the contrary – we try to keep things simple and source locally. We feel that we have a certain responsibility towards our children in terms of the environmental challenges that we (and especially) they will be facing. This is why we aim to create toys that last, toys that entice people to keep them. Hence our slogan – Toys for Life.

ESNAF Workshop
ESNAF Workshop
ESNAF Toys - pieces
Parts of Toys

Only in our last collection (Australia) we decided to delicately introduce colours but even then the paints are 100% environmentally friendly.

Kangaroo Toy
Kangaroo Toy from the Australia Collection. Available in our online shop.
What was the first toy you ever created?

The first toy we created was a rhino and, although we keep great memories, you do not want to see it :-).

What are the next projects you are working on?

We recently created Australia – four animals endemic to our friends Down Under. Biogeography is a very interesting subject to us and we plan to keep on working in that direction as our toys will not only invite children to get to know the animals but also where they live.

Australia Collection
Australia collection. Available in our online shop
How would you describe the design & architecture scene in Bulgaria?

Dynamic, with lots of potential and chaotic at times.

Are there any challenges you might encounter as a young designer in Bulgaria? How did you overcome them? 

The main challenge is the fact Bulgaria, unlike some Scandinavian countries for example, is not really well-known for its designers and architects. That can be a strength, too – we count only on the quality of our products and not on our country’s reputation to make us successful. 

Any other Bulgarian designers you are particularly fond of and we should definitely check out?

Check out these guys – tochka & tockha, really cool stuff.

What are the places we shouldn’t miss going to when in Plovdiv?

Plovdiv is about to make some huge noise abroad – in 2019 it will be the European Capital of Culture and will see a massive number of events that year – from traditional folklore to wacky contemporary performances. There will be something for everyone.  Plovdiv is several millennia old and the Old Town is full of evidence of that – from the ancient Roman Theatre (which is used for concerts today) through the Byzantine architecture to the traditional Bulgarian houses (most of them museums and art galleries today) – Plovdiv is a gem.

Plovdiv Amphitheater
Plovdiv Amphitheater (c)
Something personal about yourself – what is your favourite animal?

Just like us Deyan is a huge animal lover. In fact he dedicates some of his trips to meeting animals – for example, last year he visited a retirement home for abused elephants in Thailand where he gave a mud bath to a baby elephant. Anastas’ favourite toy is the fat cat from Brementown musicians and we both dream to meet the animals from the Australia collection in their natural habitat.

ESNAF Wooden Magnetic Toy - Elephant
ESNAF Wooden Magnetic Toys - Cat & Dog
Elephant and Cat & Dog toys. Available in our online shop.

Thank you for the interview! We are looking forward to see the next creations! Until then you can follow ESNAF by Archabits also on Instagram and Facebook. And in case you missed our other interviews, you can read them on our blog.