Designing for play is as multifaceted as play itself. An important characteristic of play is that the player feels intrinsically motivated for and in control over the activity. Designing objects for play thus means to design for a probability that children recognize, explore and appropriate the playful potential of an object. My aim is to help design students understand how the nature of play can be captured in ideas that embody this playful potential.
Designing for children requires a thorough understanding of their needs and wishes, interests and motivations. And though we have all been young, it appears to be quite difficult to adequately empathize with children during design. I aim to help students train their skills in contextual enquiry with children, to uncover their worlds of experience and perspectives.
Co-design and research with children
This Master elective course teaches students how to cooperate with children in explorative research to uncover their worlds of experience, needs and preferences. It also teaches them how to set-up and conduct co-design sessions that elicit design ideas as well as underlying interests, concerns and values. It is a hands-on course centered around sessions with primary school children from neighbouring schools.
(course code: ID5184)
Design for children’s play
In this Master elective course, insights from research and co-design with children are used as a stepping stone towards designing playful objects, such as toys, games, playscapes, or (partly) digital media. The focus of the course is on play value, the importance of play as an unguided, self-motivated activity, and creativity in design of products for play. The course includes lectures, literature study and the design of a play concept. This design is tested and judged by a panel of primary school children.
(course code: ID5185)
I have supervised and chaired over 60 graduation projects at Master’s level at our faculty and a few at other institutions, most of them about children’s play. The topics range from developing cooperative approaches in design with children to designing amusement park attractions, and from ADHD-relieving play opportunities at schools to indoor gardening playsets. Most of these projects are for industry, some for public bodies, and some are research oriented. A list of most recent projects can be found in the education repository.
Student Research projects
Students get acquainted with research by performing a literature study and conducting a practical research. I coach projects on children’s play, primarily on the involvement of children in co-design, contextmapping and related methods to explore children’s worlds of experiences.
Whenever children’s free play is at stake, I am happy to provide guest lectures, feedback sessions, or act as client in student projects. Over the years I have been involved in basic design courses at our faculty, the Bachelor End Project, Interactive Technology Design, Interactive Environments, Joint Master Projects and more, as well as some appearances at other design institutions.