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Play isn’t just for kids. For world-renowned toy designer CAS HOLMAN, play is the spark that boosts our creativity and imagination throughout our lives. Featured in the award-winning Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design, Cas designs toys that have no set functions or learning objectives. She teaches us that the process of playing empowers us to learn without fear of failure, challenges us to find new solutions and ways of thinking, and inspires us to work together towards revolutionary innovation.
Cas Holman is the founder and principal designer at Heroes Will Rise: an award-winning independent toy company producing innovative toys that are designed for creativity and open-ended play. For two decades, she’s been designing playthings like the well-known Rigamajig—used around the world—and interactive play spaces that encourage children and adults alike to explore, imagine, and collaborate. When we play together, we learn to take responsibility for our own ideas and our happiness, and we learn to trust and work with others. Cas teaches us that when we take a playful approach to all aspects of life, we encounter unexpected possibilities and a deepening of our important relationships with our teammates and colleagues. When we play together, we come to understand each other.
Cas was featured in the award-winning Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design. Her motto? Easy is boring. She motivates us to notice the world around us, adopting a mindset of curiosity in everything we do. Her philosophy places play at the forefront of the design process, and she makes toys for kids to feel empowered and understood.
As a consultant, Cas has worked with the leadership and design teams at Nike, Ford, Disney Imagineering, and MIT. She teaches the world’s biggest companies to integrate the benefits of play, open-ended processes, and new ways of thinking into their ethos. Cas also designs indoor and outdoor play spaces for schools, public parks, and museums, including the recently opened Wobbly World at Liberty Science Center, New Jersey. As an educator of twelve years and a former associate professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, she’s dedicated her life to challenging conventional ideas about how we learn, and what types of learning have value. She’s collaborated with thought leaders in design, early education, and play advocacy who share her passion for reimagining our systems for learning and play.
Cas is designing a “prototyping play” exhibition at the Queens Museum for Fall 2023, and is designing teaching tools for the Walker Art Center for Spring 2024 and beyond. She is currently featured in a retrospective exhibition about play called the Object/s of Play: The Work of Cas Holman and Karen Hewitt at Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. Cas is also writing a book about play with science co-writer Lydia Denworth to be published in 2025.
If we want to create, innovate, and collaborate in fresh ways, we need to tap into the power of play—which is for everyone, not just for kids. In this talk, award-winning toy designer and educator Cas Holman illustrates how play is a fundamental element of creativity. Using examples from her own design work and decades of observing and facilitating play, she explains how play inspires unexpected outcomes and allows for new discoveries that might otherwise be unreachable or seem impossible. Her approach has helped teams reframe their understanding of their goals and create new approaches and processes to evaluate and achieve them. She’s already brought her workshops to the likes of Nike, Ford, and Disney Imagineering, helping them integrate the benefits of play into their work. A keen observer of human behavior, Cas’s insights make her a go-to for teams looking to energize their process and reframe corporate habits.
What does it mean to “play”? How can free-flowing creativity transform to concrete plans? In this workshop, Cas Holman, award-winning designer od Heroes Will Rise and Rigamajig, shows you the way. Putting theory into practice, Cas leads collaborative workshops and group exercises that expand on her unique approach to creativity. Using her principles related to childhood and play as a guide, she leads you through the design process, open-ended inquiry and creativity, and group dynamics within collaboration (to name just a few!). After every workshop is a discussion where you can ask questions, bond with teammates and unlock new perspectives. In her workshops, she proves how when we play together, we learn to take responsibility for our own ideas and learn to work with others more effectively.