“Seriously playful”

I am Mathieu Gielen, Assistant Professor specializing in design for children’s play at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. I was trained as an industrial designer and ran a design studio for 22 years. Nowadays I engage in design research and education at TU Delft with a focus on designing for children’s play and co-design and co-research with children.

Driving my interests and activities is the desire to foster opportunities for free play through the design of playful products of any kind. My two main streams of work are:

– Bottom-up: methods for developing an empathic understanding of children’s worlds of experience to inspire design;
– Top-down: exploring the potential of theories, concepts and models from social sciences for informing and inspiring design for play.

Where these two meet I aim to foster opportunities for free play, in the face of changing societal circumstances and technological possibilities. I extend, apply and disseminate knowledge on design for children’s play in international and national research projects, through specialist design education and projects with industry and public partners in the Play Well Lab.