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Boulding Blocks: A Brainy Alternative To Lego, With Billions Of Configurations

Artist Mark Boulding's interlocking blocks explore positive and negative space in three dimensions.

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Artist Mark Boulding had the idea for Boulding Blocks, a toy set of interlocking black and white cubes, while working in his ceramics studio in Denver, Colorado. As he was spacing out clay bricks to dry—traditionally, there needs to be a brick-sized space between them—he came up with what he calls "Conjoined Space Theory." As he explains on his website, "It’s easy to see the bricks, or substance. We are trained to see it. It is another thing to see the space or voids—that takes a leap of imagination."

Another leap of imagination? To translate that theory to a kids' toy. At the New York Toy Fair in February, Boulding launched a major overhaul of the traditional building block—one that has equal amount of positive space (plastic) as negative space (slots in the plastic). Connecting through interlocking prongs, Boulding Blocks have billions upon billions of possible configurations (8 x 10 to the 32nd power, to be exact).

They can be used to make a cube, or a trippy cubist tower:

Or 3-D Op-Art, in the vein of Victor Vasarely:

Because they have two prongs on one side and three on the other, the blocks can be snapped together at an angle, allowing for circular formations and more complex structures than those made from rectangular blocks. Buildings and bridges can be rendered more realistically, and as Boulding suggests in a video on his site, they can potentially be used for architecture models or furniture prototypes.

For now, A Perfect Cube pack comes with eight blocks, but plans for future sets can be seen on the Boulding Blocks website. Buy them there or at various museum stores across the U.S. for $17.96.

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