The Art of Play

The Art of Play

By: Janet Thomas, RID One of the e-newsletters I eagerly look forward to is The Herman Miller A + D Newsletter. Once a quarter I browse through the links to amazing and inspiring stories on Design across the globe. What caught my eye this issue is the dazzling work of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam. A world renowned textile artist Horiuchi has taken her work to a new level creating kinetic playscapes from hand knitted nylon structures. Part Architecture, part tensile Engineering and part Art, the results are beautiful to view and exceptional for play.  An excerpt from ArchDaily’s interview with the artist captures this essence: AD: Would you agree that a great playscape is one that allows children to take risks? Would you consider your structures risk-encouraging environments? I agree. Children need to cope with risk.  They enjoy a challenge but by nature are very careful.  Presented with a play structure which does not challenge them, they quickly grow bored… and then break them. If you give them a challenging play environment, well designed so children can assess risk, they will not get hurt. Our structures encourage children to challenge themselves but with many routes and options.  There is no program of play.  There are always alternatives. Each child plays at the level he or she is comfortable with.  From forty years’ experience I have learned a little about children’s psychology. Some groups of children come regularly to play on their own; their play is fantastic.  They know what they are capable of and then stretch just a little further, becoming more and more adept. Some of their maneuvers are heart-stopping to a bystander – but they know what they are doing. As I look at the images of children interacting in the Hakone Open Air Museum Woods of Net playscape I clearly see the potential of building confidence, stimulating creativity and strengthening socialization through the Art of Play. Photo by flicker.com

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