As an assignment for my Design Fundamentals class in NYU Tisch, I give my thoughts on Netflix’s Abstract S2:E4 ‘Cas Holman: Design for Play’.
I found it really interesting how in the type of design that Cas does, you don’t want to make things easy, which goes against the principles of other areas of design, such as user experience design. The way she put it, “easy is boring” makes a lot of sense though. I do think there’s a balance because you want to create something that challenges children and allows them to have fun and be creative, without being so challenging that it frustrates them or where they’re unable to use it. It’s clear to me that she really does understand the balance here, because although she said that “easy is boring,” she really made sure that children could use the Rigamajig without having to use any tools or have any difficulty putting their designs together.
It was also really thought-provoking when Cas said that “play is as essential as food, air, or sleep.” I hadn’t thought much of it, but I’ve had pet birds over the years and play really is something essential for them. We like to think of play as something human and extra which plays no role in survival, but anyone with a pet knows this not to be true. She described it as “therapeutic,” which I think is an excellent descriptor. Ever since the first COVID shutdown, I started learning how to play guitar, and I realized that play is something that was really missing from my life for a while and it really is incredibly therapeutic.
In general I also really liked how Cas really kept children in mind with her designs and how she really seemed to understand them. She pointed out that most toys are essentially made to keep children busy and are not really made with children in mind, but with Rigamajig, she let children choose what they want to build and play with instead of adults telling them what to do.