David Lai

Hint: The people inside are responsible for some of your best childhood memories.

Tucked away on Chicago’s northwest side, a large yellow door with a furry monster lurking behind it is a hit with Instagrammers. Those who pass by pretend to reach for the large doorknob or even jump up in an attempt to open it. The door invites those who stumble upon it to channel their inner children, even if for just a few moments.

What many people don’t know is that behind that giant door, toymakers are encouraged to channel their inner children on a daily basis — and it pays off.

Mike Jeffers/Facebook — Amy Buckzo/Facebook

Big Monster Toys (BMT) is a toy-design firm that sells its ideas and inventions to big-name toy brands including Hasbro, Mattel and Disney. Their main objective is to delight, entertain and educate with toys and interactive devices.

While having a digital device to distract your child is becoming the norm, BMT still succeeds in the toy industry, winning the “Best Toy Award” for some of their original creations, including Bulls Eye Baseball and IZ, the Mp3-playing alien.

How do they keep up the momentum? Behind the yellow door lies an imaginative office that sparks creativity. The walls of the open space are brightly colored, there’s a giant giraffe that almost touches the ceiling and there are toys scattered everywhere.

Designers have the opportunity to prototype whatever idea comes to mind at any given time. There are 3D printers, a collection of different furs and fabrics and every kind of plastic imaginable, so that each designer can prototype his or her vision.

Allix Rogers/Open House Chicago

Even the kitchen space is creative — it’s shaped to look like a freight-style train car. BMT’s CEO and President Don Rosenwinkel believes that his small group of designers resembles a train. In fact, when an employee starts at BMT, they’re encouraged to decorate their own train car as a reflection of who they are as a designer and an individual. The car is then added to the train that circles above the heads of everyone at the firm.

This work environment has served as inspiration to the inventors that created many of the toys and games that made our childhoods complete, like Uno Attack and Hot Wheels. It’s crazy to think that behind a fairytale photo-op, there’s a world filled with even more magic and possibilities.