We recently sat down with Park Supplies & Playgrounds designer Levon Hutchinson to find out what his role involves and his favourite part of bringing playground dreams to life.
What path led you to be a playground designer?
I have a background in product design and completed a Masters in design which I finished in mid-2020. Through my journey in design so far, I have established a great passion in designing for young people. This passion was explored thoroughly in my Masters research which involved designing a toolkit of sensory objects for children with sensory processing difficulties. Towards the end of my Masters, I was quick to put my name forward for a design position with Park Supplies & Playgrounds as it aligned with my values and passions as a designer.
What does your role at Park Supplies & Playgrounds involve?
My role as a playground designer is quite diverse due to the abundance of processes involved in putting a playground into the ground. It starts with the sales team which communicate with schools to establish a budget, area size, age range and wish list of equipment for their playground. This is then passed onto myself where my job is to design a 3D digital model of their dream playground which meets their needs and includes as much play value as possible. The design process often involves hand sketching and research in order to piece the playground together.
Other tasks may include pricing the playground designs, designing new pieces of playground equipment and completing manufacturing documents so that the install team know exactly how our designs piece together and where they should sit in the ground.
How do you incorporate student and school feedback into the designs?
Our sales team communicate with the school leaders and children to ensure their needs are heard and compiled into a wishlist. When this wishlist is passed on to me I create a space that appeals to the children with as many of their suggestions included and as much play value as possible. In terms of my own research, I will often do a search on the school’s website which can help with determining colours for the playground, or school logos and patterns that can be applied to our rock walls.
What do you think makes a good playground designer?
Firstly, this comes down to having a passion for the job and feeling a sense of fulfilment from the things we design and the value it brings to playground users. To summarise with a few key words, I would say that a good playground designer is creative, imaginative, welcomes new challenges, is forward thinking and good at listening. Playground design involves a heavy focus on human centred design – meaning to hold childrens’ needs and desires with the utmost importance.
What do you enjoy most about your job as a playground designer?
The most enjoyable and fulfilling part of my job is getting the chance to brainstorm and design new playground equipment for the Park Supplies & Playgrounds range. It’s a chance to bring out the drawing board and get creative –
imagining new and innovative possibilities for our
playgrounds and ways that children can interact with them.