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Play Well: why?

At the Play Well Lab, playfulness takes precedence at the core of our research. However, the name also incorporates the word “Well,” which stands as a source of nourishment. This dual meaning, infused with a touch of humor, highlights that the concept of play, frequently misused, merits acknowledgment for its intrinsic value. Being part of the Play Well Lab represents a dedication to the utmost quality of play, aiming to foster profound well-being in children.

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Play Well: how?

At the Play Well Lab, we consider children as play experts. To Play Well means first of all to play freely. When we design for play, it is essential to preserve its self-directed essence, free from external pressures. During play, children have the opportunity to deliberately shape their own experiences by following their personal motivations, doing things their way, and choosing who they want to play with or without. We avoid using play as a mere tool for learning or inducing pre-determined behaviours.

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Our goal

The Play Well Lab’s mission is to enhance play experiences for children by bridging the gap between research on children and play design practice. Academic knowledge on children is often inaccessible to practitioners due to the challenge of translating psychological and social science concepts into concrete design elements. The Lab strives to make the ambiguous nature of play more graspable for designers, dispel misconceptions, and professionalize the field by aiding designers in integrating academic research into their practice. The Lab supports the deployment of playfulness in daily life.

Who are we?

Meet Mathieu Gielen, the Lab Director of the Play Well Lab. With a background in industrial design and over two decades of experience in designing for children’s play, Mathieu transitioned from running his own studio to teaching and conducting research at the university, where he focuses on how play designers could be better supported in understanding and incorporating academic knowledge into their work. Recognizing the importance of designing with children, his work is centered around play design methodologies that emphasize children’s participation, representation, and influence. In his current role as Lab Director, Mathieu manages organizational aspects, curates research topics aligned with the lab’s mission, and collaborates with partners to explore innovative approaches to play design. Click here to view his Publications.

Find us

Delft Design Labs

Faculty of Industrial Design

Landbergstraat 15

2628 CE Delft

The Netherlands