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Lebo Mädveď Games

You can read the original article from Forbes magazine here:

The brand Bear Design produces design educational games. They are heading to the world with his latest product.

26. AUGUST 2020

They took full advantage of the pandemic period. We presented the story of how a trio of smart architects consisting of Juraj Horňák, Erika Beňuška and Patrik Olejňák founded the playful brand Lebo Mädveid back in June 2019. They took the design and production of educational design games to a higher level with the new project Mapuzzle World. This is the largest and most complex product of their brand to date, around which they also launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Hithit platform.

More games, higher quality

Bear Games products have undergone several changes over the past year. The trio did not want to stagnate, so they constantly worked on improving quality. Perhaps the most significant change is the fact that they replaced the original laser engraving with printing. "It was not stable because every material is different and the engraver always looked different. Now we print the graphics from the top, the whole product is much more expressive and colorful," explains Juraj. At the same time, he describes the months since the first article on as a very active period.

The trio of architects presented other educational design games, such as Folxeso, i.e. memory game with a touch of Slovak folklore. "Each card has an authentic pattern, region and name of the village. These are mostly small, unique villages that most people have not heard of," states Juraj. What he likes most about this project is that it does not represent well-known cities, but forgotten localities with rich culture and history. In total, the number of Lebo Mädveid brand games has already increased to 15.

According to Juraj, expanding the portfolio is a natural step. "We enjoy inventing new products that are thematically different, so we can also focus on other target groups," he adds. Every game from the Lebo Mädveid workshop must have three basic aspects around which the three architects built this brand. Education. They play. Design. And they don't intend to give it up in the future either.

Money goes into a new studio

A major turning point for the Bear Design brand occurred during the first wave of the spread of the coronavirus. The trio of architects also sat at home due to quarantine. That's when Juraj decided to devote his free time to designing and working on new products. "Because the whole world was closed and it was not possible to travel, I symbolically designed a map of the world," he says about the latest product Mapuzzle World, on which they spent about three months and several prototypes preceded the final version. According to him, people have been interested in this concept for a long time.

"Since we were financially 'squeezed' and it costs something to make a product, we decided to create a crowdfunding campaign. It is now exactly half way through," he says. On the Hithit platform, the trio of architects set themselves the goal of collecting 5,000 euros, thanks to which they could fully launch the production of the Mapucle World product. If they managed to raise funds beyond this amount, they would invest them in their studio in Nová Cvernovka. They would like to make it a representative place of the Bear Design brand.

Whole World Mapuzzle
The latest initiative of the playful brand is the Mapuzzle World. Photo: Bear Design archive

And how was the preparation of the Mapuzzle World product? "It's an interesting process," says Juraj. "Map display is quite problematic. In this respect, there is no perfect representation of the world, not even a globe. And the map does not. When you flatten a 3D object into 2D, there will be changes in the size of some countries." Juraj approximates that Greenland, Canada or Russia are mostly stretched, while Africa seems smaller than it actually is. The farther a country is from the equator, the more stretched it is.

Designing the Mapuzzle World product was difficult because Juraj could not place each country on a separate piece. According to him, there would be too many pieces and it could easily happen that they get lost. At the same time, there was a danger that, for example, with Chile, which is narrow from north to south, the part could break. Therefore, he had to connect the countries together and create meaningful units from them. "My main consultant was my brother, who accompanies people around the world and understands history and geography," explains Juraj.

The product Mapuzzle World is created in three versions - Mini, Midi and Maxi. They are of different sizes and have a different number of parts. There are a total of 16 in the Mini version, 50 in the Midi and up to 126 in the Maxi. Compiling them is made difficult, for example, by the fact that instead of the full names of the countries, Juraj only listed their international two-letter abbreviations and added a legend to them. "We showed rivers, meridians, parallels, tropics," he names other points of interest and immediately adds, "In the largest version, I explained, for example, what the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn means."

The future? Go abroad and scale.

For the trio, the Mapuzzle World product is a big step forward. They created it in Slovak, Czech and English, making it an international product. "It opens the door to the world for us," says Juraj. "We would like to go to neighboring countries such as Austria, Poland, Hungary. We are slowly making our way to the Czech market, where we have already been to several design markets and are also sold in a few stores."

Until now, the best-selling product of Bear Games is Mapuzzle Slovakia districts, but the game Mapuzzle Europe countries is doing just as well. "When we sell on markets in Slovakia, Slovaks buy Slovakia more than Europe. And when we are in the Czech Republic, Czechs buy more Europe than the Czech Republic," Juraj adds. According to him, this could also be due to the fact that, unlike our neighbors, our districts still have an administrative meaning and we also recognize them on the basis of vehicle registration numbers.

Bear Games on a design market
Juraj Horňák (back) and Erika Beňuška (front) during the sales event. Photo: Bear games archive

However, the work of the trio of architects is far from over here. By Christmas, they would like to make a detachable frame for the poulet. "People also like Mapuzzle aesthetically, and they would like to display them on their wall," Juraj explains. They have already designed this product in Bear Games, now they are starting to test prototypes. It is essentially a frame into which the puzzles are inserted, fixed without glue, and can be removed and put back again at any time. This will make the game a design element of the interior.

Juraj also shares a great vision that he would like to realize in the future. After the product Mapuzzle World Mini, Midi and Maxi, he would like to come up with a Mega variant. "It is part of a long-term plan within Lebo Mädveð. I want to create large and luxurious custom versions of our products. They will be hung on the wall, possibly working on a magnetic system, and divided into approximately 500 pieces," he elaborates on his idea, and laughs that it is natural for them as architects to go to larger dimensions so that the game does not remain only on the table. So they see their direction also in the fact that people have to move their bodies more, move in space and not sit.


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