Flatout Frankie

Flatout Frankie is a New Zealand brand of cardboard designer flat pack toys that are creative, easy on the environment and smart on space. Each cardboard toy has been designed to encourage creative and active play with signature striking white graphics add an inspirational base to push little minds. Caring about the world as much as they love to play, Flatout Frankie products are 100% recyclable. 

Flatout Frankie sponsored a series of workshops at the Paper Trail in Byron Bay,
where they got to customise their own castle/house and then took it home for play!


Introducing Flatout Frankie owner & designer Sarah Gardner…

What is the essence and vision of your business Flatout Frankie that you strive
to bring to your customers?

To give our little customers a creative base, or an idea, they can take our toys any place they fancy. They are all made of cardboard, and while they look pretty darn cool sitting all pretty in their white graphic state, we fully encourage people to go nuts decorating and turning them into their own little pieces of art – in this way the toy becomes more of an experience.

What brings customers to purchase a product by Flatout Frankie ?
I think a lot of time it is a nostalgia thing, most people have at some time in their life turned a cardboard box into a great toy, and so they get them, and maybe by buying one of our toys will inspire their kids to do the same. Also, without doubt, the environmental aspect, not a piece of plastic in sight! Its really cool to see kids play hard with our toys and then recycle them, and so it goes around.

What is the best thing about owning your own business?
Seeing people smile and be really enthusiastic about our toys, you know then the hard work is worth it. Also, getting to design pieces that I would want my kids to play with, and not compromising on the idea.

There was some serious love of these cardboard toys by children & adults.

How much of your style flows into how you live, how you dress, what you read?
Goodness, I wish my desk was as simple and clean as my designs… I love the idea of not filling my life with lots of things, so I guess flatout frankie embodies this idea. I would say I dress with a splash (often a tiny little drop) of colour on a pretty neutral background, hmmm, yes, this is like my toys except I am leaving the splash of colour to the kids – it has to be, because it’s personal.

We know what we love about Flatout Frankie but what do you love about Paper Runway?
I love the simplicity and ease in which everything works together, a sign of great design. And I simply love holding the magazine, I have a bit of a crush on Envirocare you see, have had for a long time.

What enlivens your creativity day in, day out?
My kids… definitely. If I have been working on a new design I call my 5 year old in and ask what she thinks, she is pretty honest. If she orders one up for her room, I know it could well be a winner. I really think about what they would want to have in their room, or what they would love to pull out when their friends come over. I am also totally obsessed with Scandinavian and Japanese design.

One of the Flatout Frankie cardboard toys. The range includes a princess castle, oven, aeroplane and dollhouse
PLUS a collection of products to be released this week. Excitement plus!

What makes you happy?
My family, having a good laugh, friends, coffee, good design, peeking out the window in the morning and seeing a clear sky, never ceases to put a skip in my step!

Which blogs do you read daily? Your best blog find?
I always look at Design Files, and Mama Likes This – she finds some super good stuff, when I have a chance I definitely head to the bloesem blogs. There are so many amazing things going on.

What is your favourite paper product?
Well I would have to say flatout frankie toys right? After all I am living and breathing them, especially at the moment with our new products being launched this week.

What is your relationship to paper?
I have always been very passionate about paper, this comes from being a very print focused graphic designer pre flatout frankie, so many paper stocks, not enough projects. Cardboard has been a new thing for me, and I love it just as much.

How different is working on paper to working with any other medium?
With paper you have to be very sure of what you are designing and the final file which heads out the door for print, you can’t go changing anything easily once the ink hits the page.

What freedoms does it allow and what are its limitations?
I love sitting down and figuring out how a piece is going to work, how it will fold. I know there are limitations, and I sometimes get pulled back because something is not going to work, but then we sit and figure it out and more often than not I get they design to work exactly as I wanted it to.