2013 Melbourne Design Awards


Project Overview

Touch, feel, imagine, create. Embrace your magical surrounding and find solace in your new world. Lose yourself in the moment. This journey is yours only and I am merely a pinhole in your brilliant universe. Welcome to the world of MCHUMBA!

MCHUMBA are illustrative theme based tables designed for children between the ages of 3-8 years. They are designed to be drawn on using dry erase markers which can be easily wiped off much like a traditional whiteboard.
A two part formula clear paint is applied to the table turning the surface into a highly durable erasable canvas. The two part clear paint is applied over the digitally printed themed image (e.g. Sky, Sea, and Jungle). Each theme contains a number of set elements designed to serve as ‘Triggers’ in assisting the child to make and draw logical association’s within the theme. As an example the ‘Sky’ Theme (see below) includes a bird, clouds and a hot air balloon all on a sky blue background. These are non-erasable and have been digitally printed onto the table. The two part clear paint is then applied on top of this layer.


MCHUMBA & Charlwood Design


MCHUMBA is a newly created private start up business. It was founded by 2 individuals with backgrounds in Education, ICT and Design. The 2 members have a blend of experience and exposure across a number of domains, providing them the ability to amalgamate learning, creativity and education with beautiful design.

The foundation of MCHUMBA was to focus on assessing the impact of digitisation on children’s education; specifically in the areas of critical analysis and reasoning. As part of this research I authored a minor thesis on the topic. This paper aimed at identifying learning needs and assessing how technology/design mediums can be utilised to meet those needs in the delivery of education.

The MCHUMBA teams has also formed vital relationships in the early stages of product concept and development. Key to these stages have been the input of industrial design and graphic design. These members have become key in translating the vision into a viable product designed to meet objectives.

Charlwood Design

Project Brief

Creativity, individuality and personal expression are wonderful things. We simply don’t believe that the answers to all your questions are Google.

We believe it is critical to exercise our children’s minds outside the current construct of the ‘Google Generation.’ An answer should not always be ‘force fed’ or just a ‘mouse click away.’
It is good practise to encourage children to search for an answer using disciplines sadly left behind. The journey of thought is a beautiful thing. Imagination and Interpretation are what makes us all so uniquely different.

At MCHUMBA we created a world where your dreams become your reality. There are no boundaries. Just lose yourself in imagination.
We invite you in; the rest is up to you. It’s a place where the answer is not there in front of you but rather where one must seek, dream, imagine, reason and create. It’s good brain food.
It is time to re-evaluate a few things. Not to take a step backwards but rather a side step as we see it.
What a wonderful union of the ages where the medium for expression and development facilities an environment where children can dream in a myriad of ways.

Project Need

Children are now digital natives accustomed to an increasingly digitised world.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we learn, communicate, think and play! There is no denying this.
However…..sometimes when there is an overwhelming push in a certain direction something rather important gets left behind.

Being born ‘Digital’ has meant that children use ‘Google’ as their first port of call when seeking information. With information now just a mouse click away, knowledge about anything can be virtually acquired with minimal fuss, time and even thinking!
This sounds great…..BUT!

Although the Google Generation are prolific at searching for information, very quickly and with a cut and paste mindset, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest it’s not all good news.
Firstly, the speed and readiness of information is breeding a rather lazy psyche where there is little desire to undertake critical analysis and thinking.

As a result young people are spending less time evaluating information for relevance, accuracy or authority. We don’t blame them. A well-known British inventor summed it up really well recently by saying that the Google Generation are ‘losing creativity and practical skills because they spend too much time in front of screens.’

Design Challenge

Significant challenges arose in designing interactive tables for children between the ages of 3 - 8 years of age. Careful design consideration was needed to be given across key areas such as height, depth, reach, length and pelvic width with a strong focus on useability across the target age group. What was optimal for a child 7 years of age was not necessarily optimal for a child 4 years of age. Furthermore, it was key to design a product that children could grow 'into' rather than grow 'out of' during early development years.

Key to MCHUMBA is its visual appeal to children. This visual appeal however needed to be balanced with a sense of practicality and suitability. The product by nature encourages children to become immersed in an environment often over an extended period of time. Consequently, the product needed to support a plethora of criterion, many of which were often not entirely compatible.


All MCHUMBA materials are sourced locally and from suppliers with sustainability conformance.

One of the key drivers in the development of MCHUMBA was to eliminate the large volume of paper waste that is common during children drawing activities. When considering the number of schools and day care centres across Australia the carbon foot print impact of paper wastage was immense. Compounding this wastage is drawing paper is typically barely utilised before being thrown.

MCHUMBA plays a significant role in reducing this footprint by providing a product with highly durable erasable surface which can be used over and over again.

Moreover, MCHUMBA table tops are recyclable and interchangeable. As such customers would only need to purchase the entire kit (stool, legs, base) once only and could acquire desired themed table tops individually and without the need to purchase an entire kit.

This award celebrates creativity and innoviation for either a product design concept or prototype - an early sample or model of a product that has not reached the manufacture stage nor available to the market.
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