I’ve worked as an industrial designer for Playworld Systems for 12 years. I moved to central Pennsylvania with my husband before we had children; and now we are the proud parents of two energetic little girls, ages 6.5 and 3.
Since becoming a mother, I look at playgrounds differently, which influences my designs. Even when my girls were really little and couldn’t use playground equipment, I would take them to the park and observe other children. I’d imagine how my own daughters would utilize the various pieces of equipment. Now that my girls do swing, slide and climb, I see how their personalities influence their play style. Before having children, I didn’t realize how a child’s personality and temperament could sway their play style.
Witnessing play experiences firsthand definitely impacts the way I design playground products. For example, when I was tasked with the re-design of a classic play event like the playhouse, I wondered how my own daughter (who is 3) was using this product at her childcare center, so I visited, observed and learned from the caregivers about how the children use the playhouses. The insights gleaned from these conversations led to the design of PlayTown, which was created using the Early Childhood Learning Standards. Many of PlayTown’s activities support and reinforce classroom learning in an outdoor environment while encouraging imagination and cooperation.
I was also involved in the design of Playworld Systems new Family Site Furnishings. These new site amenities are all about making your visit to the play area more comfortable. My colleague Craig and I are both parents and we often scrutinize the issues we deal with at the park to help create products. Family Furnishings are inspired by the way families interact at the playground, whether you are a parent with one child, a couple of families getting together for a play date, or a group of kids just out to play. These the furnishings create great spaces to support meaningful interactions.
With flexibility and a variety of design options, these functional pieces can be utilized anywhere in the playground or park. For example, the line’s picnic table was designed for the entire family with scaled seating for adults and children and an accessible opening for wheelchairs. We mounted additional hangers under the table to hold coats, hats and bags.
Being a mom has changed my life and my career. Through my designs, I get to influence how children, including my own girls, play outside. I get to create the environment where they will reach critical developmental milestones, master skills, get tired, make new friendships, and hopefully create those positive memories they will remember once they grow up.
How has being a parent changed your job?