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News . Feature Stories . Kids Build a Dream with Design Grad's Playhouses

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October 13, 2010

Kids Build a Dream with Design Grad's Playhouses

CIA industrial design graduate Sam Cahill '10 has co-founded a company selling decorate-it-yourself cardboard playhouses.

Kids Build a Dream with Design Grad's Playhouses

Sam Cahill, a 2010 CIA graduate in industrial design, is taking part in a new movement of young, talented, and savvy graduates making their own destiny. Rather than relying on an unstable U.S. economy, he decided to stay in Cleveland and partner with Ohio State University graduate Andy Carcioppolo to build customized playhouses for kids.

The entrepreneurs started the company Build a Dream Playhouses with investor Michael Welsh. Made of recyclable corrugated cardboard, the playhouses have outlines of graphics around the white exterior and are easily assembled. Cahill’s designs are intended to encourage kids to use their imaginations and customize the “pop and play” spaceships, snack shacks, ice cream trucks, hatchbacks, castles, and kitchens with colors and other innovative finishes.

“I really want to push creativity and give a child the freedom to design his or her own play environment,” said Cahill about the concept. The customizable feature and the sustainable quality of the materials make this product unique against competitors' plastic playhouses, which are likely to end up in landfills, said Cahill.

As Creative Director, Cahill does everything from sketching concepts and ideation to designing the graphics to engineering the product. And he says this is not much different from his experience in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s industrial design program.

“The work ethic that you gain at CIA can be applied to anything you put your mind to,” said Cahill. “Art school teaches you how to think, as opposed to what to think. CIA is very hands on. For each design and product, we did all the sketching and prototypes, and had to understand every dimension and functionality.”

Because of that hard-working creativity, Cahill says he hopes to hire more designers from CIA. “Cleveland is a great place to stay and start something because it is inexpensive and there are tons of investment opportunities and support,” added Cahill.

Earlier this year Cahill won first prize in a competition sponsored by Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management for his product Ivy, a customizable display surface for a hospital IV pole. His newest venture, also around children and customizing your own space, is an extension of these interests he discovered during his last year at school.

Build a Dream has even given local kids a bit of “smile therapy” by donating its playhouses to Northeast Ohio hospitals. The team hopes to expand sales of the playhouses and then work on bringing the Ivy product to market next. They’ve got entrepreneurial fever, they admit.

To learn more about the project and buy one of the playhouses, visit BuildaDreamPlayhouses.com.

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