In our previous blog, Graham wrote about design, and design thinking, and whilst this one is not exactly a direct link, it does follow a similar theme.
It’s been grandson time again, with a short, but packed visit and a mix of venues and activities. We had our first visit to Fun Street at Silverburn near Glasgow, and I’m not quite sure who enjoyed it more - Fraser or the grown-ups!
In addition to the ubiquitous soft play, slides and climbing frames there were also role play houses including a beauty parlour and garage. Upstairs in the iZone we watched an older child deftly scale the augmented climbing wall while Fraser enjoyed the huge science themed interactive touch screen.
He also did a pretty good impersonation of a hairdresser in the beauty parlour, deftly wielding scissors and holding the hairdryer at the correct angle.
A well-stocked café with table service provided great food for kids and adults alike, and the hour and a half session quickly sped by. Covid restrictions which have now become such an accepted way of life simply made the venue feel safe and welcoming.
So, where does design fit into this?
Unless you were intentional about trying to analyse it, it was unobtrusive, yet integral to both the infrastructure and the operations of the entire venue. From the open plan seating area offering good visibility of the soft play area, to the robust gated exit, health and safety was built in.
For the kids it offered “freedom” under the watchful eye of friendly and helpful staff and for accompanying adults they had the option of some “me” time in the café or joining in. I won’t elaborate on how I managed to get lost in the soft play area and make a very inelegant descent down the slide which appeared to be my only means of exit. Suffice to say it caused much hilarity.
“Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good”
The following day had an outdoor focus, with a trip to Finlaystone Estate just a few miles from our home. With woodlands, play areas and gardens, it has something for everyone.
When our girls were young we had family membership, and spent many Sunday afternoons exploring the woods, playing on the slides and enjoying a tasty treat in the café.
25 years later the estate feels very familiar, but the main changes have taken place around the play equipment. It is of the rustic wooden variety and includes a fort, pirate ship and death slide – although I’m sure that is no longer an acceptable description!
The formal gardens are beautifully laid out and include a Celtic maze and “smelly” garden for those with restricted visibility.
After lots of fun on the play equipment we were undecided whether or not to visit the formal gardens, but Fraser loved them and was drawn to the fountain, which he found fascinating. On a warm spring day inside a walled garden it was wonderful to sit and watch him playing happily.
"The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.”
~ Erik H. Erikson
Finlaystone House has been home to five families throughout its 800-year history. The house has also hosted some of Scotland’s most famous historical figures in the past, John Knox in 1556 and Robert Burns in 1768. The house was extended by the noted architect Sir John James Burnet in 1900.
Set in five hundred acres of ancient woodland and mature renowned gardens, Finlaystone is a prime example of design that has evolved and adapted over the years.
Today it has become a tourist destination offering not just a great family day out, but also a beautiful venue for corporate events and weddings.
So, I’ve given two very different examples of how design has contributed to the venues above, one new and contemporary which has been purpose-built, and one with a long and diverse history which has cleverly shaped and adapted. But in each case, design is the lynchpin which creates an enjoyable and memorable visitor experience.
"Design is thinking made visible".
~ Saul Bass
Take care, lead well