Design Story: Palimals

It started as an idea: How our new colorful wooden animal toys, Palimals, came to life through Rilla Alexander's storytelling.

Rilla's book, Her Idea, sits on a shelf with the idea toy.

I am a picture book author and illustrator. My first book was called Her Idea — it is all about ideas, how to find them and how to finish them. The ideas are actual characters in the book, which I made into toys to accompany the story.

Exhibition of Her Idea at the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin.

I exhibited Her Idea and the idea toys at the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin, where I also teach a ten day master class in character design and story development. This is where I first met Roberto Fantauzzi who, in the years to follow, would become the Chief Design Officer at Areaware.

First sketches of Palimals by Rilla Alexander.

Many years later, we started working together on product ideas for Areaware. My initial sketches for a group of animal friends were based off of the idea toys. At first, they were very simple and symmetrical, but collaborating with Roberto, the designs became more complex and dynamic.


The design process of Palimals, Lion.

My illustrator designs were then adapted into 3D models. I drew changes onto the images of the 3D models and we gradually refined the shapes. Once the models were refined, prototypes were made.

Early prototypes of Palimals, Lion.

Based on the factory prototypes, we refined the colors and shapes further and made tweaks based on the factory’s restrictions.

Developing the early prototypes of Palimals to hold hands.

Playing with the prototypes, we realized we wanted them to be able to hold hands, so we redesigned their hands to be magnetic. Now they can really stick together (as good friends should).

– Rilla Alexander

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Rilla Alexander


Precio habitual
Palimals are a colorful pack of wooden animals that celebrate connection and friendship. Though each Palimal is different in its own special way (just like you!), they’ll always stick together. Their hands have embedded magnets so they can link arms, hold hands, or climb up the fridge. Palimals are happiest when they’re with buddies. Collect them all for the ultimate hang!

Recommended for ages 4 and up.