Facilitating playful experiences in the creative process


Thinkbox makes play matter in the creative process by facilitating experiences that embrace novel methods of generating and developing ideas. As part of my fourth-year thesis project at York/Sheridan, I explored the correlation between creativity and children's play. The final Thinkbox kit provides creatives with practical strategies and analog tools to be more playful and harness new creative channels.

Recognition: RGD — Tam+Kitt Award of Excellence for the GTA / Applied Arts Student Awards 2014 / Adobe Achievement Awards 2014 Semifinalist


Children are natural experts when it comes to playing. Essential to cognitive development, play engages the senses and leads to the discovery of the universe. Many studies on cognition and child development show that children develop higher levels of creativity from their spontaneous behaviour. In contrast, adults create lower levels of creativity from their logic-based behaviour (i.e. lower levels of impulsivity and greater cognitive control).


Can we utilize child's play to develop interventions that fuel creativity and greater adult problem-solving skills?

Research topic

The effects of play on creative thinking and problem-solving.

Understand the role of play in child development.

Identify common pain points in the creative process of adult creatives such as designers, artists, and architects.

Explore ways to enhance creative thinking and problem solving with play.


Being playful can enhance creativity and greater problem-solving.

The Survey

A survey, consisting of 21 questions, was distributed online to various individuals studying or working in a related creative field. A total of 60 individuals participated in the research, and their responses were collected and analyzed. The following infographic summarizes and visualizes the survey results.

Play is a process

Source: Elements of Play - The Strong,CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Understanding creativity
What characteristics make a person creative?

Source: Creative Juices in Five Star Mind by Tom Wujec The Strong,CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Are elements of play and elements of creativity closely related? When we play, six essential play elements emerge: anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength and poise. The more we play, the more intense the elements are displayed.

The solution

Defining common themes and pain points. The three common pain points in the creative process discovered during the survey were: lack of creativity/originality, frequent creative blocks and ineffective problem-solving.

Types of play and how they tackle pain points

Develop the product

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Product design / Branding / Graphic design