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LCF speaks to industry leaders about the importance of radical play in creative practice

Digital illustration of alien creature in the universe and two human hands pointing at each other
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 20 April 2022
Digital illustration of alien creature in the universe and two human hands pointing at each other
Work by Teresa Fogolari for ANAME 'Numbers' collection

The School of Media and Communication at London College of Fashion recently hosted a panel discussion about the importance of play as a tool for knowledge exchange and for creatives to reconnect with their practice in uncertain times.

Shanushka Walpita, Course Leader for BA Creative Direction for Fashion at LCF, hosted the panel which welcomed 4 industry leaders, creative disruptors and innovators to share their relationships with play in creative practice:

Student life is all about exploring the limits of creativity. There is no other time in your life when you will have the chance to (un)consciously set and test these limits. Uni is such a perfect creative playground.

— Shanu Walpita

Each speaker was invited to showcase an artifact which they felt best represented the panel’s theme - anything from fun, sentimental objects with no obvious purpose, to music, film and 3D art, symbolic of their creative development.

Throughout the event, the panelists discussed various aspects of play through the lenses of identity, community, activism and creativity. They also reflected on the importance of making mistakes as part of the iterative process.

As Nate explained: “One thing I feel is missing from the creative industries is the facilitation of psychological safety. Sometimes the best idea comes out of any of the projects that came out by mistake.”

While Danielle brought up the link between play, ownership and identity, Carri also discussed the physicality of play, and Teresa the power of collaboration and playing together.

“I think the idea of play doesn’t need validation,” Teresa argued. “If you know that you created something that you are happy with and that is your own product, you’re not going to worry about anyone else either ignoring or stealing it because you are satisfied with what you created.”

Carri added: “I’ve been so connected to online communities because there’s always so much sharing of information and of skills, from the early days of the internet to open-source networks. I’d like to see more of that in the real world.”

Photo of four women from different cultural backgrounds wearing colorful traditional robes
‘At The Feet of Our Mothers’ project developed by The Pattern in collaboration with Play Nice

The speakers also reflected on questions around being playful in their own practice, and how making mistakes would sometimes be the answer to a new path in the creative process, especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For many of us, life in a pandemic has been isolating, static and quite serious. We've been navigating a constant state of uncertainty. I don't think we have completely lost our capacity to play, but I do think we've had so much collective trauma to deal with over the past 2+ years that it might feel like it's not ok to play. As a response, we wanted to introduce Radical Play as a catalyser - of change, connection and creativity,” Shanu tells us.

The panel discussions culminated in a Q&A session open to all attendees, during which they touched on advice on how to get a foot into the performance industry, the impact of the pandemic on our desire to play, and the language we use around it.

“We can play in big and small ways - every day! - and create intentional rituals of play and play to speculate new possibilities,” Shuna says. “I hope the discussions inspired students to be more playful with their work and their ideas, and encouraged them to play with and in uncertainty.”

RADICAL PLAY: playing with the unknown, playing with possibility

Watch the event recording