Focus on: The rich possibilities of play

These designers and creatives embrace their inner child to keep their creativity alive and kicking in their work.

Some might say creatives make careers out of play and in many senses, they'd be right. It's a fundamental part of keeping the juices flowing, opening the mind to possibility and finding new ways to see. Here are six features from our archives showing the rich, delightful – and sometimes surprising – results of getting serious about play.

Playing at work

South African-born architect Clive Wilkinson designs work spaces that feel like alternate realities to shift employees’ perspectives an open up creativity. In this video from Design Indaba Conference 2014, he talks about how all work and no play makes for a dull office.

Playing with typography

Hat-trick Design in London translates its passion for typography into three dimensions with a singular chess set based on letterforms. See how the designers translated the typeface Champion, created by Hoefler Frere Jones, into chess pieces.

Playing just to play

Prolific South African illustrator Daniel Ting Chong lets us in on one of his secrets in this interview: “Play, play, play.” It’s one of the most productive things a designer can do, he believes: “Just make stuff and just keep making stuff.”

Playing with pattern

It’s no coincidence that South African bespoke furniture design company De Steyl named its collaboration with pattern designer Reneé Rossouw “Play Play”.  The modular, stackable storage pieces the partners produced offer endless combinations of colour, pattern and design

Playing with portraiture

Moroccan photographer Hassan Hajjaj plays with portait conventions in his boldly patterned images of artists, musicians and friends shot in cheeky poses. He traces his approach to his childhood growing up with a clash of cultures between his new home in London and his origins in Morocco. 

Playing permanently

Quirky British designer Dominic Wilcox looks at even the most mundane of objects with fresh eyes, applying a child-like playfulness that reinvents them as somewhat ridiculous but completely logical. His inventions include a contraption to amplify bird calls and a novel way to make smoothies. 

Watch the Talk with Dominic Wilcox

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