Now, ten lucky children have had their designs turned into real-life toys for them to play with and cuddle.
Each toy has the unique flair of child’s imagination. There’s an orange unicorn, a couple of friendly monsters and a dinosaur with a hat – perhaps the best lineup of quirky characters since the launch of the Soft Toys for Education program 12 years ago.
“Children can use his head as a pillow and cuddle with his ears,” said Maja, 8, and John, 5, from Norway whose giant-eared mouse was one of the winning designs.
IKEA took on the challenge to faithfully recreate every awesome detail. “We look at the sample and we look at the drawing to see if they’re matching. If the eyes are different, or there’s an extra arm, it should be on the soft toy as well,” said IKEA product developer Bodil Fritjofsson.
“These soft toys are truly fun and imaginative, but they also have a special meaning,” said Bodil. "As IKEA Foundation donates €1 per sold soft toy to UNICEF and Save the Children, this means that children are helping children to build a better future for themselves.”
"I think they will like its happy colour, that it's soft and its long nose and toes!" said Stella, 6, from Cyprus of her flamingo design.
From November right though until December 26, the donations will go to education programs for children around the world.
Since 2003, IKEA has raised nearly 77 million euros, reaching 11 million children in 46 countries.
Four year-old Thymeo, from Belgium, also had his design for a dinosaur turned into a cuddly toy to help other children.