THE PARTICLE ZOO
In 2008 I founded a toy company called The Particle Zoo based on the science of subatomic particle physics. From electrons to Higgs Bosons, antimatter to dark matter, and quarks to protons, I translated abstract concepts into huggable science. Because nobody is ever going to actually see a subatomic particle, I had very little to go on. So I mixed wit and whimsy with mass and momentum.
When I started the company, I asked myself, why wasn't there a fun product for particle physicists? With The Particle Zoo, I found a niche and filled it. By 2009, I had more orders than I could fulfill, an invitation to visit CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Geneva (I went), and orders for toys from the smartest scientists in the world.
The toys always generated smiles and encouraged scientific understanding for thousands of children and adults around the globe. I also designed many one-off custom pieces for customers, often PhD students who needed a hands-on toy to illustrate their theses. Other products included a boxed set of each particle in miniature which I called "The Universe-in-a-Box."
As a graphic designer, I created a brand identity for my small business that was implemented across various products such as posters, postcards, stickers, textiles, buttons, magnets, tags and playing cards.
In 2016 I upgraded to a Shopify site for the brand which included over 100 separate products. In 2017, after a decade of making toys, I sold my e-commerce business. I'm happy to say the new owners are still making particles for your science and educational needs at particlezoo.net.
Each toy is loosely based on actual scientific measurements so they vary in weight, ie, some are light, some are heavy. I created consistency across the brand by maintaining a color scheme for the tags, weights and colors so that they work well individually or as a collection. Because each is a different color, shape, weight and name, people are inclined to want to collect them, which boosts sales.
I designed the products to convey the company's core values:
CUSTOM TOY BROUGHT ON BOARD EUROPEAN SPACE SHUTTLE WITH ASTRONAUT CHRISTER FUGLESANG
THE PARTICLE ZOO HAS BEEN FEATURED IN THESE PUBLICATIONS
I designed the logo to convey the elementary, indivisible properties of subatomic particles by using primary colors which are the foundation of all other colors. Also, red, yellow and blue are most commonly preferred by children, a large portion of the market for the products. The logo is designed to be flexible enough to fit into different environments but recognizable enough to maintain the brand identity. The contrasting fonts correspond to the two axioms of the product: hard science (Bell MT) and juvenile whimsy (Bell Gothic Black).