Bloomsbury Design Library - Featured this Month

Featured object



The invention of the Danish toy manufacturer Ole Kirk Christiansen, the famous construction toy LEGO went through several early reinventions. LEGO as we now know it dates from 1958, with the introduction of a crucial design feature - internal cylinders allowing a tight and reliable connection between bricks. Read more about evolution of the play brick that became much more than a brick in Kjetil Fallan’s chapter in ‘Iconic Designs’. 
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Featured this month: Design and Play

As the LEGO brick celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, we’re turning our attention to the evocative theme of design and play. Learn more about Barbie™, Brio, and LEGO; the impact of mass production on childhood; how and why toys are often deliberately gendered, and the place of play within the design process.

© Getty / Popperfoto / Contributor

Design and playful objects

The Bloomsbury Design Library features an impressive range of texts relating to the theme of play. You can read about the Swedish toy manufacturer BrioMattel, the US company which created Barbie™ and various iconic toys and brands, including Rubik's Cube and Hello Kitty™. The notion of toys such as dolls and soldiers enforcing particular gendered roles is now widespread - you can read about this in Kate Hepworth's fascinating article on gender and design objects in the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design.

© Getty

‘The opposite of play is not what is serious but what is real’ – Sigmund Freud, 1908

The relationship between playing and design doesn’t begin and end with the finished products and their users - play can arguably form a crucial stimulus for creativity within the design process itself.

Discover more on the case for play in a digital design context, and also the purpose and practice of serious play within the ‘prototype playground’.  Can playing move beyond a perception of being merely whimsical to beat the ‘play paradox’, and offer a safe way to innovate and anticipate risk? And what are the practical ways that play can improve competence in digital design?