Cooplay – activity children’s play table round by Irena Vent


Tell us about your background.  How did you become a designer for children’s furniture?

After my studies in Political Science, I started my degree in Interior Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Then I discovered product design, a subject full of experimentation, trial and error were the key to success, something I consider the most wonderful part of design, because it brings me back to my childhood, when we built forts without construction knowledge.

Currently, and due to my background in the field of sociology and politics, I am researching how design is capable of generating behaviours that show how fascinating the most everyday objects can be.

What was your inspiration for your activity children’s play table Cooplay?

Cooplay arises as a response to the loss of contact with nature and the excessive consumption of toys during childhood. In my research I discovered many studies that pointed to the harmful effects on childhood of children spending more and more hours in enclosed spaces (home, school, playground, car, etc). This made me ask myself something very simple: What was my best childhood memory of play? I asked my friends, my parents, my acquaintances, and most of us placed that memory in outer space. I knew then that it was necessary to create a game capable of adapting to any space and that would promote the exploration of the environment through it. Playing outdoors without rules or prohibitions, playing in nature is learning to love and care for it, that is the basis of my inspiration.

Why is Cooplay especially suited for children as a play furniture and creative toy?

One of the theoretical bases of Cooplay consists in Simon Nicholson’s Theory of Loose Parts, who said that the creative potential of a space is directly proportional to the number of objects in it. Under this premise, Cooplay promotes play through the objects in the environment. Nature is the largest and richest provider of objects to play with (soil, stones, branches, leaves, logs, etc.) and Cooplay is the catalyst for those free, creative and experimental play situations that parents and educators should promote.

Playing with Cooplay, a stone can be a meteorite, a frog, a flower, or just a stone, depending on the story that child wants to tell on the board.

Are there other toys or furniture that you also designed specifically for children?

Cooplay is my first product for children, however I think it will not be the only one. Designing for children has certain difficulties, but I’ve realized that recovering childhood memories allows you to approach complex problems with a lot of imagination.

A few personal questions at the end: What toys did you play with as a child? Did you have a favorite toy?

I have a special memory of the toys I made for myself. My father was a carpenter and since I was little I played at making my own toys, cars, little houses, etc, with the leftover wood, nails and a hammer. Those were times when being a child meant taking risks and that’s something I really think is being lost.

If you look into a crystal ball and predict your future as a designer: what children’s product would you like to design next?

In the near future I would like to continue developing Cooplay, its possibilities are endless. I have had the opportunity to show it to educators and their feedback has been very enriching. For example, an interesting facet I am working on is the integration of children with different abilities. Cooplay can help create free and cooperative play environments between children, facilitate classroom work, and enhance an inclusive environment.

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