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Getting Playful at LDF

Ben Morgan takes a tour of an interactive new exhibition as part of the London Design Festival – Inside Playful Minds.

Getting Playful at LDF


September 22nd, 2011

Just before the official start of the London Design Festival, there were already loads of events, exhibitions and installations to see across the city.

At the first full day of the Inside Playful Minds exhibition at The Arts Gallery we were lucky enough to get a guided tour from artist and designer, Damon Millar.

Millar, whose background is in both art and designing “bits of racing cars for Formula One teams”, explained the motivation behind the exhibition.


“A lot of technology is selfish,” he said. “Although mobile phones, for example, bring people virtually together, they physically separate them. For instance, imagine I’m sitting next to you on a train talking to someone who’s miles away. I’ll no longer get to meet you.”



This frustration of modern life was the catalyst for the 3 installations. Touch Me Not is ’a two-sided wall that touches you back’, In Contact merges electronics with the natural environment, where touch transforms living plants into ’a whispering garden’ and Dash Dot Dash features soft ’musical robots’ that make the sounds of instruments as you play with them.


“A lot of people are quite keen on social media; but we’re talking about social hardware here,” Millar said. “So 2 people can engage and learn and meet each other through these physical mediums.”

It is an unusual freedom to interact with exhibits in a gallery space, and at first you may not feel inclined to touch them. As Millar recalled: “We’ve gone to exhibitions before and just been really frustrated that you can look, but you can’t touch, when you really want to touch.


“So this [exhibition] unleashes that desire to reach out and touch something. In fact, it encourages it. People come in and they feel like they shouldn’t touch it, even when you’ve told them it’s okay.”

Inside Playful Minds is on now until 28 October 2011.

London Design Festival

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