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What Would Your Adult Playground Look Like?

Keep it SFW, now… creative director and experiential artist Grant Dudson on the importance of play, why “adult playgrounds” are the next big thing for brands, and the immersive art installations he’d have in his personal playground.

[Feature image: Numen/For Use. Net Prostoria at the Mestrovic Pavilion, Zagreb. Image by Domagoj Blazevic.]

As the narrative around what it means to be an adult changes, we’re seeing more and more experiences pop up that speak to the playful side of our human character. 

There’s an argument that adults are more in need of playgrounds than children, given that children are able to turn almost anything into an exciting game or experience while adults generally feel emotionally trapped and restricted when attempting to connect with their inner childlike perspective of the world.

Granted, some people say the world is our playground, whether it’s playing tennis or ten-pin bowling – and that’s of course valid. But we also partook in these sorts of activities when we were children. What we lose when we become adults are spaces and worlds that are designed to surface our curiosity and sense of wonder through exploration and discovery. The rise in popularity of climbing parks and experiences like Go Ape are proof that adults are in search of the fun we were so used to as children.

Go Ape

Even in the case of spatial design, applying simple creative solutions, like opting for a split-level space instead of one flat plane, can already increase the visual appeal of that environment. It’s a design mindset that we are seeing more and more evidence of today, and the emergence of literal takes on adult playgrounds is informing how we design everyday spaces from retail scapes to office environments.

Meow Wolf Convergence Station

The adult playgrounds that are currently changing the game are worlds like the extremely successful and ever-expanding Meow Wolf, which is a fully immersive playful world of discovery and awe-inspiring interaction designed by installation artists for adults. [Read our reviews of Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station and Omega Mart here. – WXO Ed]

Omega Mart Store. Image by Kate Russell

Then there are art installations like Playland by artist Yinka Ilori for Pinterest at the Cannes Lions festival in 2019, and experiential art activations like my One Hit Wander immersive experience, which involves the participation of 3000 members of the public across 30 days and is due to go live in London in June 2022.

With immersive art worlds like Net Prostoria by art collective Numen/For Use and Remember Your Dreams for Porsche by artist Cyril Lancelin, adult playgrounds will very soon have a ubiquitous presence across the globe in many major cities – and I am personally having progressive talks with key people to make this happen. 

Numen/For Use. Net Prostoria at the Mestrovic Pavilion, Zagreb. Image by Domagoj Blazevic.

Below are a few more of my favourite immersive installations I’d bring into my adult playground.

Credit: teamLab, Floating Flower Garden: Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One, 2015, Interactive Kinetic Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab, courtesy Pace Gallery
Numen/ For use, Tube Linz photo by Christoph Huber

So ask yourself… what would your perfect adult playground look like?

To get more insights from experts in the Experience Economy like Dudson – and to be the first to know about our membership programme, events and more – apply to join The WXO here.

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