Our Story

Urban Canvas is a green toy company that happily began by chance with the help of a very large family.

One day, Maria Chee, a mother of three imaginative and rambunctious toddlers, built a large inhabitable cardboard box for her children, which she dubbed a “store.” Her children played with it endlessly, using markers to design the surface and then morphing the structure into a clubhouse, a schoolhouse, and back to a store again. Maria left it standing in her living room when she hosted a birthday party for one of her children. Then something remarkable happened… the box became the focal point of the party. All of the kids - including her 13-year-old nephew - really dug it! This inspired Maria to create more cardboard toys. With each new invention she consulted her young children, and extended family of nieces, nephews, and cousins who in turn, became the critics and testers of her creations. Soon there were handmade prototypes in every corner of Maria’s house, prompting much creative play. Some were discarded, many are in development, and a few received the stamp of approval from the discerning young consultants. With the launch of these select few products came the birth of Urban Canvas.

Currently, Maria is fine-tuning the design of the inhabitable structure. It will be a product offering soon.

Prior to starting Urban Canvas, Maria Chee worked as an interior designer and an art educator. She holds an M.A. in Art Education from Teachers College of Columbia University and a B.A. in Architecture from Barnard College of Columbia University.