Inspired by fun theory, I worked with a team of designers to create a fun and playful experience in the lobby of a drab academic building.
We studied whether the presence of play materials (like pipe cleaners) would improve people's mood or create a sense of community.
- Our group brainstormed ideas over two sessions, then developed a schedule and timeline, divided tasks and purchased materials.
- Pre-play: Participants voted on their mood, choosing between "happy," "meh" and "sad".
- Play: Over three days, we added playful materials to the front lobby, including pipe cleaners, pom poms and popsicle sticks. One team member observed the area at all times. Participants could still vote on their mood.
- Post-play: The materials were removed from the lobby, but the voting box remained.
We observed and tracked the number of students in the lobby in general, and those sitting near each other and interacting. We also counted the students' votes on their mood during pre-play, play, and post-play.
- Students reported their mood to be happier during "play" days than either the pre- or post-play session.
- More students sat near each other and interacted during the "play" days.
A more collaborative, friendly and overall happy environment was created during "play" days.
Add more comfortable furniture, better lighting and additional outlets to create a welcoming environment that fosters collaboration in the space.