Work and Play: Experiences in Toy Town

Vicki Thomas

    Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


    The University of Northampton is in a town known for its shoe industry, but during the twentieth century it became 'Toy Town' and a national centre of innovation for the British toy industry. The University has been working with the town's industry and organisations, to capture the local toy history but more importantly to understand the creative value of play and toy design to the locality. Drawing on experience in teaching and working with toy businesses this paper focuses on the creative relationship between work and play. How do the toys you play with as child lead to a career choice? How is the world of work reflected in toy design today? Is play as 'a child's work'? Or is this a notion that is being undermined in today's schools? Does playing with games and toys develop skills for work? Is a 'play' office interior truly creative? Does continuing to use play aspects of work-such as tinkering-keep us happier in retirement? Our studies into the value of play started with toy design projects on undergraduate courses, where we observed that play seemed to encourage creativity. Has this experience been shared in other disciplines and with more recent cohorts? How have our graduates transferred their skills to the local industry and into the work place? The paper sets out to reflect on the community experience of staff, graduates and local employers and to share some provisional thoughts about the vital creative links between work and play.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2019
    EventInternational Toy Research Association (ITRA) 8th World Conference - Paris, France
    Duration: 11 Jul 201813 Jul 2018 (Proceedings of the Conference)


    ConferenceInternational Toy Research Association (ITRA) 8th World Conference
    Internet address


    • creativity
    • play
    • work
    • community
    • toy design
    • innovation


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