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hidden treasures, Laura Klingele. Foto: Laura Klingele

Study play and learning design? In Germany, that is only possible at the “Burg”. Just this July, the annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Designgeschichte 2022 (Society for Design History 2022, link in German) showed how present the topic is in the discourse, which was dedicated in detail to “Design for Play, Fun, Excitement”.

Now the exhibition Play! Design! (link in German) at the Institute for New Technical Form (ENTeF) in Darmstadt from 4 October to 27 November 2022 provides insights into the diverse topics and approaches that have been pursued in this field of study at Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle over the past 15 years. On display will be examples from exercises and projects by students from all phases of their studies: the basics of play and learning design, the methodological design exercises in the second year of study, the projects in the main study period and the Bachelor’s and Master’s theses.

These projects are about children’s play, adults’ play, the importance of play in the transmission and acquisition of knowledge, and finally about the role of play in social and creative processes in general. Play objects, play spaces and play actions are designed: The exhibits in Darmstadt are correspondingly wide-ranging, from card games to stuffed animals and wooden cars to stimulating children’s furniture.

“Play has many facets. In play we experience fun and joy, we are free from the constraints of everyday life, we can try out new things (or ourselves). But play also includes excitement, competition and adherence to rules. It is also true that play is a child’s way of exploring and understanding the world,” explains Karin Schmidt-Ruhland, who has held the professorship for play and learning design at BURG since 2007, and puts it in a nutshell: “Playing means learning to live.”

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