As humans, we become connoisseurs of whatever is important to us at the time. As a teenager I was a 7-11 connoisseur. I was extremely picky about the consistency of my slurpees (I might still be pretty picky about that). In my 20s there was a period when I would only draw with a specific type of pencil, if I got to class with a sub-par selection there was no way I could draw anything worth keeping. Now, in my 30s, I have a lengthy list of olive oil requirements.
As a kid I was a playground connoisseur. I had very specific opinions about where we should go to play, and the quality and variety of the different equipment at each play locale. I wrote about one of my childhood playgrounds a little while ago here.
Oh my stars do I wish I had been exposed to this:
This is the brainchild of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam and created through her company NetPlayWorks. She started exploring textile art in the 70s but the shift to playground designer was a bit of an accident. From her profile on Knit Japan:
“Two children had entered the gallery where she was exhibiting ‘Multiple Hammock No. 1′ and, blissfully unaware of the usual polite protocols that govern the display of fine art, asked to use it. She watched nervously as they climbed into the structure, but then was thrilled to find that the work suddenly came alive in ways she had never really anticipated. She noticed that the fabric took on new life – swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space. She felt it was almost as if she had discovered a new dimension.”
I like that. Play as another dimension.
Her first public project was for a national park in southern Japan, and since then she has created at least 6 other play spaces. Her commission at an art museum in Japan was for a sculpture that children could “touch, play with and experience through all their five senses.”
These amazing structures fit that bill perfectly.
Each of her structures is engineered with safety in mind, but I think part of what I love about this is that is doesn’t look all that safe. We spend a lot of time and effort keeping kids “safe” but kids’ brains are programed to touch and climb and explore and fall from a height.
These look like so much fun precisely because they are not too safe.
the NetPlayWorks website
and Rebellogblog.com here