Wednesday Workshop: Wear and Tear – Report

Posted on: Thursday 02 July 2015 6:45am by Hannah Lee


  • Use digital and physical media for what each is best at; let them interact with each other
  • Balance agency – give children a choice, but not too much!
  • Consider cooperative play involving children, parents and the internet – target your audience and relate your idea to them
  • Know your purpose and be specific. Fit your product to your purpose.
  • The old adage: ‘less is more.’

The Workshop

After a brief introduction, the workshop launched immediately into exploring ‘the shock of the new,’ more commonly known as digital media, which is upsetting old business models and moving away from more tradition interaction. The experts running the workshop set out to address how digital and physical methods can be used to complement each other.

Meanwhile, a 3D printer whirred away in the background… it was soon clear why!

Workshop 1 – 3D printing

Chris Thorpe explained the significance of the mystery 3D printer behind us. His session explained how to bridge the boundary between the digital and the physical in children’s media. Or as he put it, ‘making playful digital things in the real world.’ Whilst 3D printers are becoming used in educational institutions such as the Tower of London, there is a prediction they will also become used within the home. 3D printing has many benefits, including children and parents alike having fun whilst being involved in a communal design process, where they are able to download plans to print their own toys. Children will also have a longer lasting relationship with the product as opposed to simply purchasing the finished toy.

The best way to summarise and explain this digital revelation is to use Chris’ example. How do school teachers make fossils exciting? Why, print 3D fossils with students and hide said fossils around the school for students to find! Enough said. (And apologies to anyone who finds fossils incredibly interesting).

Workshop 2 – Bringing physical toys back to life

Jo Lansdowne, Alex Fleetwood and Esther MacCullum-Stewart addressed how to bring physical toys back, and how to use digital media to support traditional kinaesthetic methods of play. Each expert gave a short presentation about their projects and there was a clear, common message: involving children in every stage of the design process is the best way to understand what your audience want from a product.

The clear message that came from this workshop actually became a takeaway. Let digital and physical methods do what each is best at, and use them wisely to complement and interact with each other.

Workshop 3 – Wearables and the future

Ok, confession time. There is far more to wearable fashion than I could have ever imagined.

Matthew Drinkwater encouraged the groups to explore how fashion and technology can become one.

Matt’s company have pushed boundaries in wearables, creating everything from eye catching Nokia phones made into a 25kg skirt, to the more practical – making a belt with an inbuilt wire to charge phones and sensors in baby grows to monitor sleep patterns. The key point of this session is that children’s clothing and accessories can merge with technology for either practical or visual effect. Essentially, for use off the catwalk, this means being genuinely helpful, whilst not making the wearer look completely ridiculous.

Wrapping it up

The workshop wrapped up with some key tips and everyone left a little warm but fully armed with tools to push the boundaries on using both the digital and the physical for children’s enjoyment.

Event Reports

Hannah Lee

About the author

Hannah Lee

Sheffield Hallam University, Graduate

I am a recent English and History graduate of Sheffield Hallam University who is currently seeking full time employment. My interests include reading, writing and latin and ballroom dancing. I have enjoyed being a general volunteer at The CMC for the previous two years. This year I have successfully become… Read more