But how do we actually engage children in design for play? An introduction to the Play User Lab

Publications: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


A 2014 study of ten Danish play designing companies identified a significant barrier within the industry. Even though all of the companies showed great interest in child-centred design for play and seemed very aware of its value, only a few of the companies actively involved children in their design process. Their response was ‘‘We would like to, but how do we actually engage children in design for play?”.

To answer this question, Design School Kolding and Capital of Children initiated the Play User Lab in Billund, Denmark in 2016. The Play User Lab is a facilitation platform for creating synergies between design, play and children by educating designers and employees from play designing companies in child-centred design processes. The objective is to create play products that contain better play experiences, due to the fact that they have been developed with a child-centred mind-set.

The Play User Lab activities are structured in courses of 4-6 months and include 8-10 workshops at the Play User Lab facilities in Billund. The participating groups at each course consist of 3-5 companies bringing 2-4 employees each, and the interaction between the participants is an integrated part of the learning process. The workshops are a mix of applied research, introduction to hands-on tools and relevant methods, and facilitation of co-creation processes with participating children.

By allowing the participants to learn through action, they not only acquire new knowledge, but learn to use it at the same time and relate it to their own practise. It gives them new competencies in child-centred design for play and increases the possibility of creating better and more relevant play experiences for children.

The Play User Lab gives an answer to how you can actually engage children in design for play. Whether indeed the companies manage to implement their acquired knowledge long-term, only time will tell. Future research will determine this and conclude how this kind of intervention influences the designers’ mind-sets when designing for play.
Translated title of the contributionMen hvordan indrager vi faktisk børn i design for leg?: - en introduktion til Play User Lab
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateSep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
EventIPA 2017: International Play Association conference 2017 - IPA Canada, Calgary, Canada
Duration: 13 Sep 2017 → …


ConferenceIPA 2017
LocationIPA Canada
Period13/09/2017 → …
Internet address


  • Child-Centred Design
  • Design for Play
  • Involvement of Children
  • Design Education

Artistic research

  • No
  • IPA 2017

    Karen Feder (Participant)


    Activity: Participating in or organising an event Participation in workshop, seminar, course

Cite this