Puzzles teach children hand-eye coordination and spatial logic. They also boost math-related skills. Now DesignLibero, an Italian company, has made puzzles even more useful by combining them with oversized stuffed animals and molded plywood frames that double as modular furniture. Animaze is a whimsical three-in-one product that pulls its weight in floor space and encourages imagination.
Each foam “animal”–they look vaguely like a seal, an octopus (or PacMan creature?), a horse, a bear, and a more indeterminate blue form–has a wood shell that fits together to become a console. Or, each part can be used on its own as a rocking horse, a pouf, a chair, or a table. Kids can play make-believe with the animals, slot the pieces together to create fantastical forms, or just come up with stories about what these bizarre creatures actually are.