At the end of January 2019 you can visit the first worldwide education on Design for Play, combining design with playing, when the Design School in Kolding opens its doors to the public. As a result of their culture, Danes specialize in centring on the participant of playing – creating the most innovate and flexible ways to test several solutions. Alumnis from this education are a real treat for companies looking for growth through innovation.
The job you have today is most likely to not exist in 20 years from now. But then … what will it become?
It is the acknowledgement of ever faster-moving global development, as well as our lacking the ability to convey how to keep pace, that has led the Danish Design School in Kolding to create an entirely new course – and the only one of its kind in the world – Design for Play. Professor at Design for Play, Helle Marie Skovbjerg, defines playing like this:
“Playing has a lot of similarities with design-thinking. Each is investigating the unknown and accepting a lack of control, within a pre-defined framework, in order to seek out new solutions.”
Design for Play at the Design School in Kolding has been created in collaboration with the LEGO® Foundation and the LEGO® Group and started out with the first group of students at the beginning of 2017. Visitors coming to the school on 30 January 2019 will have the chance to interact with some of them as well as Professor Helle Marie Skovbjerg.
“Looking at Denmark from a research point-of-view, we have a cultural tradition of making the kids our centre, which is also why and how we create playing and toys that have the development of the kid as a focal point”, she says and continues:
“Kids are allowed to test and experiment and we, as adults, accept that there might not be an outcome or that the outcome is different from what we or they expected. This is one of the keys when playing.”
Accepting that a specific outcome might not be the result of playing releases in the individual flexibility, openness and an engagement towards a new situation. But playing has to take place within a framework:
“Danish kids have a phrase: ‘What should we play?’ Here they establish the scenario, the frame within which their imagination evolves, their references are taken from and where they test new ways of speaking, moving or doing. They might need some material to assist the play as well as a place for it and naturally time is a factor as well”, Helle Marie Skovbjerg explains.
Playing pays off
Looking at most companies, no matter their size, financial considerations rule. What are the costs compared to the outcome? Are we certain about the quality of the outcome?
Design for Play is not looking for companies or students to retrieve old toys from the attic, but the intention with the course is to assist in creating frameworks that can help companies navigate within unpredictable and everchanging times[:
“In order to keep pace with the rest of the world, creativity and innovation is an important parameter and playing contains this. Mixing the framework of playing – surroundings, time and repertoire – with design methodology you have a powerful cocktail that can help companies stand the test of these new times”, Helle Marie Skovbjerg says.
She reveals that companies that on a regularly basis remove the pressure of specific output from their employees and let them play within certain professional areas for a certain amount of time have a better financial situation compared to companies that do not. While explaining this, she points out that just as kids need playmates companies need to create a safe way to engage employees in playing. And, of course, in order to give playing its true power adults also need the right pals to play with.
Hopes for the future
The Design School in Kolding does not have a limit on the number of applicants for the Design for Play course next year. It all depends on the level of the candidates. Professor Helle Marie Skovbjerg differentiates between what she expects and what she hopes for the first alumnis to be able to take on in the job market:
“I expect them to be a natural part of companies that develop products for kids, but with the ability to increase the quality and the flexibility of the products. It is my hope that, within a very short time from now, we will see a diversity where the candidates also will be present in public institutions as well as, for instance, companies working with fashion or furniture looking for the same outcome: improving the flexibility and thereby the quality of the products.”