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Diane Spiridoulias and Karen Kritzer

Taking Time to Play

Taking short breaks for creative play can prove to be a smart long-term strategy for work




PLATO ONCE SAID, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” So why is it that, as adults, we stray away from the acts of play the older that we get?

This suspension of adulthood has us aching for a release from the everyday task of “adulting.” The act of play has the ability to allow individuals to reset. Taking the time to step away from a stressful project or deadline can seem counter-productive to some, but in the end, time spent letting go for a few minutes often proves to be a useful long-term strategy. Taking time out of work for play has proven to build team bonding and improve communication skills. It ultimately makes the creativity meter soar and results in stronger problem solving skills – not to mention playing with our adult peers reconnects us with our humanity.

Many corporations are incorporating Legos and Play-Doh into team vision meetings (especially within the design industry). This is nothing new, of course, but now more than ever, we see this strategy resurfacing. Even international soccer star David Beckham admits playing with Legos to help him de-stress. Recently, retail mogul IKEA announced a partnership with Lego, further confirming the need for retailers to adopt the concept of play into their retail environments.

People can shop for whatever they need online and have it sent directly to their door, creating a thrill for merely a few minutes … and then what? We don’t tell our friends about our online shopping experience. We don’t have a long-lasting memory of pushing the purchase button. This makes the appeal and need for a physical and experiential retail space even more desirable.

David Niggli, Chief Merchandising Officer at FAO Schwarz, once said “A sense of play and imagination are two of the greatest emotional experiences you can have.” Creating an inviting and exciting environment where guests can be carefree, have the chance to get creative, let go of their inhibitions and take a step back from the day-to-day is a large task to accomplish. Retailers and designers who jump into the world of play with open arms will likely reap the consumer loyalty rewards, and have a lot of fun along the way.


Diane Spiridoulias is a passionate professor in the Visual Merchandising Arts program at Sheridan College in Canada. As a seasoned art director with over 18 years of experience, as well as maintaining a proven track record for translating complex ideas into slick, and successful designs for the beauty and fashion retail sectors, Diane is skilled in developing external client relationships, graphic design and styling. The diversity of her work reveals her ability to apply design skills in innovative ways that elevate brand and design excellence. Previous work experiences include Seven Continents and Sirens, a division of YM Inc. Diane holds a diploma from Sheridan in Visual Merchandising Arts and is currently working towards obtaining her Bachelor of Professional Arts Communication Studies at Athabasca University.   Karen Kritzer is a professor at Sheridan College where she is also part of the Program Support Team for various design courses. This career path has allowed her to balance teaching alongside freelance work, keeping her up to speed with the industry. As a small business owner and freelance visual merchandiser, Karen can relate to the everyday challenges that retailers face. Working with both top name brands and small independent retailers has allowed Karen to create unique action plans that achieve results for her clients. Just shy of 10 years with IKEA Canada, she worked as part of the Communications and Interior Design Team. Recently her work with CanGift Toronto as a seminar host, paired with retail consultations, has allowed her to keep in contact with entrepreneurs and retailers from across the country.



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