Making Play

Bringing MURO to life has been an incredible journey so far.  The saying that ‘hardware is hard’ is very true, luckily for MURO, I only heard that one a few weeks ago otherwise I may have stuck to medical sales. But now that the majority of the critical elements of production and distribution are taken care of, I’m looking forward to getting back to the creative aspects of actually making MURO.

My initial mission for this design project was to create a busy board for young children, then to creating a modular activity platform that stayed engaging for much longer than traditional wooden toys. This finally evolved to creating play.  The arrival at this final mission statement came from the insight that the heart of everything I’m trying to do is to get children to play and engage in their new physical world.

“Play is the highest form of research” - Albert Einstein

Putting play front and centre has helped direct design in a much more intelligent and interesting direction. It transpires the old business maxims of clear mission and purpose I used to cringe at are, in fact, completely true.

This crucial evolution came from the intense introspection precipitated by the invitation to the WeWork Creator Award finals last August and a well timed YouTube discovery of Simon Sinek (“people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”). A quick Einstein quote, a well placed full stop and an empathetic pause in my presentation gave the message enough gravitas to convince the wework panel I was on to something. If I’m honest, I fell for it a bit myself too.

Fast forward to 8 week post-award, production is finally sorted, panic over and I start to think about our new mission; play.  At this point I realise my big epiphany is an empty and fragile shell, well formed but ready to crack at the slightest scrutiny. What is play?  Why is it educational? How do you nurture it? I looked at ‘educational toys’ on the market (if you believe the hype that’s is pretty much every toy!) and found lots of claims, nice graphics advertising education qualities but very little substance.  Coming from a science background, this wasn’t good enough for me.

At this point you’re probably (hopefully) expecting a insightful and concise explanation of my new found understanding of the educational properties of play and how that relates to MURO.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 10 months researching and speaking to experts, but the truth is I’m not quite there yet. I know that the type of play I want MURO to promote should be encouraging is open, incorporates owned-choice and is intrinsically motivating.  

Watch this space, an explanation is on its way!