Paula Scher: Serious Play

Why are kids more creative than adults? Are they predisposed to be this way? Is it the fact that they have fewer responsibilities? Evidence is increasingly pointing towards play as being the major distinguishing factor.

After a certain age, for whatever reason, play becomes less socially acceptable. “Grow up!” someone might say, or “Act your age!”

But play is the way we engage with the world, the way we see how it works, how it breaks, and when it hurts.

I think we all know this, but few of us allow ourselves the chance to play, especially in our work lives. However, there are two notable exceptions who’ve spoken out in favour of play. Firstly there’s IDEO, the California based design consultancy, where play is essential to what they do. The ‘IDEO way’ emphasises play, and free experimentation, and this is a key contributor to its position as one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Another proponent of play is Paula Scher, the legendary graphic designer. She appeared at the TED conference, and spoke on the the issue of ‘serious play’, and it is one of the most articulate and well crafted arguments that I’ve ever encountered.