“Understanding that things can be imperfect and incomplete, gives us
a never-ending scope to improve and enjoy.”
Ironically, during my research into fun and playful design, I was diagnosed with depression. Understanding that I have a mental illness, and wanting to find ways to help overcome it, lay the foundations to this project, 'Play’.
'Play’ began without a specific goal, but to simply “play through design”. This freedom away from the pressures and constraints that can arise when designing something specific, like a ‘chair for production’, or a ‘multifunctional table’, is refreshing and important. This freedom allowed me to explore, experiment, and experience the positive intentions of play.
To me, play is light-hearted and fun. Play has a freedom and fundamentality away from the rules and restrictions we encounter in real life. Fundamentality, curiosity, discovery, imagination, humour, acceptance – these are all principles expressed in play. Understanding play, following its principles, and embedding the principles into my design process was key to the projects success.
"If its purpose is more important than the act of doing it,
it is probably not play."
Stuart Brown (Play researcher, psychiatrist)
Craft, an area balanced between art and industry, shares numerous mental health benefits with play: improving our cognitive function, alleviating stress, and boosting our self-esteem, just to name a few! Following a series of craft-based experiments through this project, playfully exploring different materials, and simply taking a step back from 'design' gave me some much needed relief.
Reflecting on the imperfections and acceptance that exists within crafts, there is a crossover we can connect with ourselves. Understanding that things can be imperfect and incomplete gives us a never-ending scope to improve and enjoy.
I guess "Why not?" was the underlying question of this whole project, taking a break from asking "why?" and escaping from the seriousness of self-criticism. Why not put 4 big legs on a bowl? Why not form a bowl out of super-thick copper? Why not make a Bench Gang?