PLAY - the design way

PLAY - the design way

22 January - 2 February 2018

The ability of playfulness to inform many, if not all, design processes and outcomes is the driving principle of DesignCamp2018 at Design School Kolding. It recognises how open-ended and playful methods can drive idea development and strategic design potential. In that way, the purpose is to inject (a much-needed) inventiveness and radical reframing into the solution to issues surrounding the provision of products and services.

The students will work with concrete challenges made available by:

  • Arla
  • Danske Bank, IT
  • Fredericia Kommune
  • Givskud Zoo
  • Ledon A/S
  • LEGO System A/S
  • LEGO House
  • LEGO Education
  • Nicolai for Børn
  • Peter Larsen Kaffe
  • Sprogeriet
  • Starbucks

Strong collaborations
For over a decade, Design School Kolding has focused on the concept of play and specifically on how to integrate play and games in design processes. At this year’s Camp, we join forces with the strong SDU Product Design, AAU Sustianble Design media and ‘German students’ to initiate a massive, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural set-up. As well, one of the strongest innovation networks in Denmark, D2i Design to innovate, will support the Camp.

Play is the clue
Play has in past decades been defined as something outside serious or practical processes, however in DesignCamp2018 it is considered the clue. We are going to combine two principles – how to act playfully together with users and stakeholders within a design process in order to activate the innate inventiveness, and how to translate this into solutions that contain a degree of playfulness in the widest sense of the word. The Camp finishes with a playful bang through an open conference with international keynote speakers and exhibitions that display the playful inspirational solutions by the students. The conference takes place on Friday 2 February and is open to everyone. Please register no later than 29 January (link will be available soon).

Programme for companies

As company partner at the DesignCamp2018, you will be working with some of the best students in a process facilitated by talented and experienced designers and teachers. Based on a relevant case/problem the DesignCamp will give you:

  • A new perspective on your area of interest and/or business and the opportunity to explore this further
  • Solutions that are relevant, specific and easy to implement
  • Knowledge about the end-user/customer and value-creation in relation to ideas generated at the DesignCamp
  • Opportunity to experience design processes first-hand and test them within your company
  • Insight into the term design thinking; a design philosophy with a development-oriented aim, which positions human beings at the centre. It emphasises the need for a profound understanding of the surrounding world and the context for which you are designing, the need to be creative and experimental when you design new initiatives, and the need to communicate your work, knowledge and results in a manner that is accommodating, accessible and application-oriented. 

Important dates
Participation is free. All that we require is that one or more employees with insights into the specific challenge that the students will be working on are present for the following events:

Monday 8 January, Tuesday 9 January OR Wednesday 10 January from 13.00-15.00:
Pre-camp workshop with Design School Kolding facilitators focusing on formulating the student brief.
The workshop date will be decided with the companies.

Monday 22 January from 11.00-13.00:
Meet your design group and present your company and your open brief.

Monday 29 January from 13.00-15.00:
Experience the students’ preliminary suggestions, give feedback and co-create with them.

Friday 2 February from 9.00-14.00:
PLAY - The design way Conference: Experience inspirational talks focusing on play and design and see the students’ final solutions to your challenge.

Programme for students

As a student you will work with approx 100 students from around the world and from different educational institutions. For two weeks you will work across cultures and disciplines on specific challenges within 20 collaborating companies. Using methods of research, user-involvement, analyses, ideation, and protoyping you will develop new methods and concepts that show how to innovate through play and design.  

You will meet a task force of talented designers and instructors who will facilitate and qualify your process and offer their input. Among these DesignIt who is one of the strongest players in the market when it comes to strategic design. 

Camp progression
First week
1. Open brief from companies
2. Cycles: Playful exploration – Quick Insights – Create
3. Qualifying main principles with specialist task force

Second week
1. Investigating strategic design potential with companies
2. Rapid prototyping and quick test in labs
3. Presentation at mini conference and follow-up game plan

The DesignCamp corresponds to 5 ECTS
- Week 3, 2018 - self-preparation (Play, Games, Gamification)
- Weeks 4 & 5, 2018 – the DesignCamp
- Inspiration lab where you can follow up on ideas, concepts
and company contacts


Conference programme

Anyone with an interest in design and play can register for the conference on 2 February.

The conference is an open event of the DesignCamp2018 ‘PLAY – The Design Way’; a two-week masterclass at Design School Kolding.
The purpose of the conference is to share knowledge on how to use play in the context of creating playful products, processes and services for the future. With the conference, we seek to acknowledge and enhance the role of play in design by introducing new perspectives from practitioners and academic experts, and we seek to identify the primary possibilities and pitfalls for the future use of play within the field of design.

Through a Play Exhibition and three Play Track Sessions, you will be able to experience the playful inspirational designs created by approx. 100 MA students during the DesignCamp2018; designs that address real and specific challenges presented by 13 companies.

Head of Camp, Sune Gudiksen, will lead a Panel Discussion between the members of the ‘specialist task force’ that has been set up to facilitate and qualify the students’ work. Through questions defined by the conference guests, the panel will debate interesting topics within the area of play, design and business.

There are limited spots available, and spots will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Fee: 500 DKK.

Keynote speakers

Professor Krystina Castella has practiced as a designer and has taught at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena for more than 25 years. Her research and teaching centres around designing for play, the intersection between design and ethical business, and sustainable materials and manufacturing. Author of 11 books, Krystina is currently writing a textbook for design students entitled ‘Designing for kids and youth: Creating for playing, learning, and growing’. Krystina worked as a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, FOX Network, RTKL and created an industrial design licensing and manufacturing company that has internationally distributed products, including furniture, toys, clothing, stationery, housewares and soft goods. She is founder of the Design Entrepreneur Network and contributor to National Public Radio. The Museum of Modern Art, Fortune Magazine and Oprah Winfrey have all praised Krystina’s creative achievements.

Helle Marie Skovbjerg is a Professor at Design School Kolding. For several years, Helle Marie Skovbjerg has been working on conceptualization of play as a way of being through the mood perspective. She has conducted several research projects that explore children’s way of managing different play moods and is especially interested in danger, silliness and exploration as a way to unfold play moods. For more information about the mood perspective: Skovbjerg (2013) Play practices and play moods, International Journal of Play, and Skovbjerg (2018, forthcoming) About Play, Aarhus University Press.


DesignCamp2018 is organised by the Laboratory for Play & Design at Design School Kolding in collaboration with the University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University and the innovation network D2i - Design to innovate.

The DesignCamp2018 is funded by the Region of Southern Denmark and the EU Social Fund.

The DesignCamp concept

Since 2009, Design School Kolding has hosted the annual two-week International DesignCamp gathering Danish and international students, companies, designers, researchers and others with an interest in design. Through an open conference, real cases and an intense design process, the Camp expounds on a specific theme and produces design concepts related to this theme.

Play in all its rich variety is one of the highest achievements of the human species, alongside language, culture and technology. Indeed, without play, none of these other achievements would be possible.

Dr. David Whitebread

Play enables us to explore, practice and try out ways of tackling similar challenges in the real world. Skills like problem-solving, creativity, empathy, communication and teamwork all have their foundations in play.

The LEGO Foundation

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.

Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst (1874-1961)

Creativity and innovation are now driving the economy, reshaping entire industries and stimulating inclusive growth.

The 2014 OECD Forum

Creativity will be the 3rd most important work skill by 2020.

World Economic Forum, 2016


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