The first edition of PlayWithDesign will take place at the end of this month, in a 400 sq meter space adjacent to the children’s trade show Playtime Paris. Artistic directors of the event, Marine Peyre and Marie Czapska give us details about this exciting new event.

What is PlayWithDesign and what form will it take?

Marine Peyre  : PlayWithDesign will invite 10 French designers to create a design project around  children and a theme of play, using foam furniture as a material. The projects will be produced in partnership with the French company Confort Mousse and with Griffine fabrics. The result of this work will be exposed this month during Playtime Paris, in a 400 sq meter space dedicated to it, with special scenography.

How did the idea come to life?

Marine Peyre : Playtime wanted to highlight the importance of children’s design and its increasing influence as a field for new ideas.  I have been invited by Playtime to take care of the artistic direction of the project.  This is in line with my creative  approach and the line of seating for children that I launched in January 2011, on the theme of modularity.

Marie Czapska : The idea came internally through Isabelle Poulet who is part of the Playtime team and who has a long experience with design. We had a strong desire to develop the decor and design side of the show, so she proposed this project which is founded on a collboration with industrial producers as well as the creation of prototypes. Bringing new objects to the attention of the public seemed more attractive and innovative to us than simply showing existing pieces of contemporary furniture for kids.

Where will PlayWithDesign be located within Playtime; what area will it cover, how will it interact with the rest of the fair?

Marine Peyre : PlayWithDesign will take place at the Parc Floral, in a pavillon adjacent to Playtime.  The main entrance to the trade show will also be the entrance to the PlayWithDesign, so there will be a direct link between the two events, although PlayWithDesign will also have its own separate entrance, allowing non-trade visitors to attend.

How did you select the 10 participating designers? 

Marine Peyre : The designers were selected according to their creative approach – we were looking for a clear link with the children’s universe, through ideas or through form.   They are all French, but fall into three categories: either  young emerging designers with buzz like Studio M, Studio Nocc, young designers who are already internationally recognised like FX Ballery and Constance Guisset, or confirmed designers like Abdi Abdelkader and Mathilde Bretillot. The idea was to build a varied and ecclectic, yet consistent team , with a quirky creative approach that could surprise the audience.

The exhibit is called “Le jeu sous toutes ses formes”  (“playing in multiple ways” or “Game in all its guises”); do you think that Design in general could be more playful?

Marine Peyre : For me design is a permanent game that allows one to link body, space and the imaginary.  In that respect, it should be more playful indeed.

Marie Czapska : Playful design is to me linked to a specific time, the 90’s with its round shapes. Today playful design is more ergonomic, more technical but not more peotic than it was 20 years ago. Playful design must not forget its function, which is to me the most significant problem with contemporary design, when it looses itself into form. When it comes to children, playful design should automatically be associated with pedagogy (when possible and relevant), to poetry and even to elements of absurd.

Who are, according to you, the names that made their mark on kids design so far and why?

Marine Peyre : I have to confess that personally I haven’t found yet any children’s design brand that is truly remarkable overall.

Marie Czapska : It is easier to find brands that offer single/ unique products or little product ranges around a particular theme. Usually these are very well conceived and produced.  When it comes to designers, they are usually invited to create products of all types, for children and adults, so it is hard to think of a name specialised in children’s design.

What is your favourite object (designed for kids) and do you have one in mind that should really be invented or re-designed?

Marine Peyre : I think that children’s design is relevant when it is not specifically  targeted to children, but when children can appropriate it. This is quite subtle because it also has to integrate the adult universe. So with this in mind, I’d mention Verner Panton in its overall aesthetics, with the round shapes and the colour palette that directly connects to the children’s universe. However, I find it misguided to think that mini versions of iconic design pieces (e.g. by Vitra) are suitable for children. It is not by changing the scale of the design that one changes its sense.

Marie Czapska : No favourite object for me but what comes to mind is the high chair as an object that really would benefit from a new design. It’s generally sulky, heavy, does not adapt or evolve and is therefore very short-lived typically. Of course there’s the Tripp Trapp (Stokke), a beloved classic, but  take a look at what Towerchair (who will exhibit at Playtime in January) proposes : … Great isn’t it? I like design when it’s crafty, adapted to the time, to its constraints and to its needs.

How will PlayWithDesign develop in the future? Does it have a mission to become a platform not only to discover some fabulous projects but also buy collections of Design for kids, like other product segments at Playtime?

Our goal is to propose a new edition of PlayWithDesign every year, in January, during the winter edition of Playtime. Thanks to a network of partners, the exhibit will travel all year long to other places linked to design and to the children’s world. The ultimate aim being of course for the project to find suitable publishers.


Marie Czapska
Art Director for the Playtime trade shows since their creation, Marie Czapska also initiated and organized the professional trade show WorkshopDéco between 1998 and 2001 and conceived, with Anne Prudhomme Béné and Claude Weber, the ‘Mon préféré design’ exhibit. 

Marine Peyre
Since 1998, Marine Peyre has been designing furniture conceived essentially around to the principles of flexibility and modularity.
Using everything from silicone to cement, her label “Marine Peyre, assises en mouvement(s)” tries to maintain a 100% Made in France approach and is currently collaborating with the Confort Mousse enterprise in the creation of a seating line: the XXL Outbed pouffe, for a 100% exterior and floating use, and the New Design for Kids collection, fun and modular seating for children.