Magic Circle of Play

One thing that I really like about teaching at Playful Interactions, TU/e is that I have the chance to meet and discuss with other coaches, who are a group of  inspiring  practitioners with different expertise and a playful mindset : )

Ellis Bartholomeus is one of them. She is an applied game consultant, and a game design thinker (I really liked the term).

I had the chance to watch Ellis Bartholomeus’s  workshop at IxDA’14 conference in Amsterdam.

Quite inspiring!

Few weeks ago we had a talk with her over what she does, and over my study. It was interesting to both of us to see whether some game and play principles be applied in  the workshop process.

Multi-disciplinary design workshops are interesting settings: people who speak different languages come together and try to communicate, and collaborate. It is not an easy thing to find a common ground for discussion and negotiation. Conflicts are almost inevitable. Besides, people come to workshops to think differently, to get inspired and to have fun.  I repeatedly observe how important it is to give the workshop participants a creative mindset and mood during the workshop to make them more comfortable and productive. I was repeatedly asking to myself, how could we engage the people in the process to provide a better experience?

Applying game principles and elements into the process and inviting them into the “magic circle”of play can be a way to a more engaging process.

That is one of the reasons that I proposed the Business Unusual project in the TU/e Playful Interactions theme. We have a nice group of students who are willing to explore the intersection of design and business, with a playful angle. And I am quite enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities together with them.

Ellis gave her workshop to the students past week. As a follower of her blog, I found the presentation 😉

I am curious about how the students will apply it to their designs.

About my research @ ProFit Newsletter

Recently I wrote about the Value Design Canvas, the tool that I am developing in my PhD research, in the ProFit newsletter:

Value Design Canvas, a tool for collaborative design

We are faced with complex societal problems like obesity or ageing population. Developing solutions require a good understanding of the problem, complementary resources and successful designs to be brought together. This is only possible through collaboration: which is rewarding but not easy. How can you bring people from completely different backgrounds together, to reach a single solution? Where do you start, what do you discuss, how do you decide? How can different perspectives be brought together to inspire innovative ideas?

Pelin Atasoy aims to answer these questions in her PhD research in Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Industrial Design. By investigating the requirements of a multi-stakeholder discussion, she is developing the Value Design Canvas, a tool to facilitate the discussion process in a workshop setting. The tool combines the design and business angles together in a single process, to make the outcome clear at the beginning of the collaboration. It enables the participants to have a discussion around a central design idea from diverse perspectives and process helps the group to clarify the different aspects of the design concept in a step-wise manner.

Value design canvas horiz

The Value Design Canvas has been applied in numerous workshops until now. The ProFit Innovation Competition Inspiration sessions and Playfit Workshop were the two occasions where the teams of companies, experts and designers from the sports and game sectors worked together by using the Value Design Canvas to develop designs for making youngsters and elderly more active. The sessions were organized in Delft, Eindhoven, Kortrijk and Sheffield. In many other cases, the design students from TU/e Industrial Design organized workshops with companies and clients by using the Value Design Canvas. The sessions were inspirational for the designers to develop their concepts by considering the user requirements and business challenges.

In the past month, the Value Design Canvas was exhibited in the Design United exhibition during the Dutch Design Week. It received interest from a range of audience, especially from the designers, architects and urban designers who work with close collaboration with diverse sets of stakeholders. The exhibition will also take place in several other events in the upcoming months: Topsectors Event in RAI, Amsterdam; 3TU Excellent, Eindhoven, and in TUDelft, Delft.

In the upcoming 2 years, The Value Design Canvas will be developed further in parallel to Pelin Atasoy’s research on multi-stakeholder innovation initiation throughout the ProFit project. More information about the research and Value Design Canvas is available at

Published on 29.11.2013 at the ProFit Newsletters


These are the three basic questions that we use many times, when problem solving, explaining, discussing and decision making. Design is also a way of making associations between these questions. However the order is important.

Simon Sinek’s presentation over the issue is an eye opener about how these questions are utilised. His main focus is how to use these questions while developing a product and communicating its value to the audience.
[ted id=848]

I found quite a similarity between the Value Design Canvas that i am developing. In principle, it is an interface for proposing the right focus for design in the right order, so that it step by step leads the group to arrive at a solution.

I was subconsciously aware that the right design requires the clarity in this order. But this video made me realize the similarities in the process that I propose for the multi-stakeholder group design process.
The inner two circles makes a clarification on the why, by exploring on the user needs, context variables and the interaction between the two. Why the idea is novel, and why it is valuable. Then it proposes the basics for how: How will you combine the spotted ideas, and how will you relize it through collaboration. And finally it proposes a structure to clarify what you are proposing.

I think that is the very general essence of designing valuable user experiences. If you honestly ask these questions in the right order, the chances of failing is less..