Free Play LLC is a design studio that creates abstract sensory play equipment for interactive learning and unstructured playing. Through these abstract structures they seek to “give kids not just a physical workout, but a cognitive one, too, as they decide what to do with each structure. Child-directed play is really what learning is based on…”1
Dan Schreibman, Free Play’s founder and president, began his playground journey when he noticed the play patterns of his two young children. After providing them with a basic backyard playset, they would play on it briefly and then spend hours on the fallen tree or nearby pond. This led Dan to questions and conversations with a cousin who had written a book on American playgrounds.
Acting on his new interest, Dan challenged a group of architects to design play structures that were unique, provide limitless play options, assist learning through experiences, support social interactions, and be flexible to any kind of setting. The competition brought to Dan’s attention the designs of LTL Architects, whose designs were “dramatically different and so incredibly thoughtful.”2
As a result of the competition and the guidance of an advisory board of educators, architects, safety consultants, and child development experts, Dan hired LTL Architects to design four unstructured playground pieces. Meanwhile he established the Free Play company in the fall of 2013.
The four commissioned play structures – The Maze, The Cornfield, The Weeping Willow, and The Ant Farm – “resemble experimental sculptures more than children’s playthings” and form the core of Free Play’s products.3 In 2014, Free Play unveiled its inaugural playground installation, the centerpiece of a state-of-the-art FIFA stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
- 1. Ferro, Shaunacy. “This Weird-Looking Playground Could Make Your Kids More Creative.” Fast Company. 17 Jan. 2014. < http://www.fastcodesign.com/3024106/this-weird-looking-playground-could-make-your-kids-more-creative > 10 Sep 2014.
- 2. “FORM on Design: Shaking up the Playground.” Form Pioneering Design. 29 Jan. 2014. < http://www.formmag.net/monitor/2014/1/29/form-on-design-shaking-up-the-playground.html > 10 Sep 2014.
- 3. Young, Meghan. “Free Play by Dan Schreibman Feeds Children’s Creativity.” Trendhunter Art and Design. 20 Jan. 2014.< http://www.trendhunter.comtrends/free-play > 10 Sep 2014.