The workshop was a collaboration between three associates of Delft University of Technology: Mathieu Gielen, Bahareh Barati, and Aadjan van der Helm. It brought together the topics of ‘open play’, ‘embodied interaction’, and ‘interactive prototyping’, to provide the students with an intensive yet comprehensive interaction design workshop. During the first day of the workshop, the students were asked to explore the playfulness of everyday objects such as elastic bands, plastic balls, wooden cubes, etc. Starting with this introduction, Mathieu Gielen continued with introducing the concept of ‘open play experiences’: a play experience in which the players are able to freely shape the contents of play - following their curiosity, expressing their creativity and enjoying the process. Then the students were instructed and provided with a support card set to describe the qualities of their envisioned open play experiences. The second day of the workshop was dedicated to sketching the interaction and embodying those abstract qualities through playact and probemaking activities. Elaborating on the relationship between physical properties and actionpossibilities, Bahareh Barati brought the importance of form-giving and enactment in exploring the possible interaction scenarios to the students’ attention. A number of play-acting techniques, Wizard of Ozing the interactive behavior as well as various tinkering materials were considered to support the improvisation exercise. During the third day of the workshop, Aadjan van der Helm taught the students how to develop a working prototype of the interactive play concept. Using interaction design technology tools such as Max/MSP (a visual programming environment) to create interactive behavior and also Arduino and Grove (technology to interface sensors and actuators), the students created simple interactive objects that could sense the environment, react and even communicate wirelessly with other objects. During the fourth day of the workshop the students incorporated the interactive behavior in their open play concepts, reflected on the overall experience and iterated when necessary. On the fifth and final day of the workshop, the students exhibited their open play experience concepts in the main hall of the Kish International Campus of University of Tehran.

Interaction Design

Interaction Design is a discipline that considers the design of products' dynamic behaviour while people are using them; From the experience of cutting with a knife to navigating a website while ordering a book. Interaction Design has developed from the discipline of Human Computer Interaction. Hence nowadays, Interaction Design is still mainly thought to consider the design user interfaces (UIs) for devices with screens, i.e. computers and phones. As such designers create cognitive heavy product experiences involving mainly the eyes and only finger or hand gestures of people interacting. In the recent past this has led to the emergence of Embodied Interaction, a relatively new discipline that challenges to consider interactions in a richer manner. Embodied Interaction aims to design interactions that take into account the full range of the human body skills. The promise is to obtain a deeper understanding of the digital world and to achieve greater reach at manipulating digital data. Interaction Designers face three main issues when designing. Firstly, how to design the form of a product to tell a user about the possible functions of the product. Secondly, how to inform a user with feedback that certain functionality is activated. And lastly, how can a user learn how to combine these, to act with the product to reach the goal that it was purchased for. Interaction Designers typically employ an iterative design process. Due to the dynamic behaviour of the product and complexity of involved technology, a step-wise process of experimentation and evaluation is the best way to guarantee a good concept. Aadjan van der Helm

Open Play Experiences

Wandering through the field of open play experiences From the ancient game of throwing sheep bones onto today’s connected toys, from drawing in the sand to augmented reality games: we are forever at play. Play brings quality to our lives. It helps us relax, motivates us to practice skills, and offers a safe environment to experiment. It is a daily medicine for keeping our sanity. All of this happens without any instruction, from a natural urge and motivation that is within us all, and supported by playthings: toys, playgrounds, games, apps. And with the availability of interactive technology the diversity and possibilities of toys get even greater. One possible downside of it is the risk that the technology limits rather than enriches the interaction between person and toy. It can easily lead a designer to build a confined path of play, where sensors measure performance, actuators provide negative or positive feedback, and the person’s own impulses and desires are overlooked. The play activity gets scripted – and then play dies. The challenge is to design open play experiences, where players engage with the process rather than strive to get to a predetermined outcome; where they are experiencing control over the interaction rather than feel enslaved to it; where there is ambiguity and room for interpretation by the player. In the workshop, designers play with objects, interactions, experiences to develop an engaging open space for behavior; a space where we can safely wander off, practice and relax – play! Mathieu Gielen


Workshop Leaders

  • Aadjan Van Der Helm

    Aadjan van der Helm is a lecturer and researcher of interaction design at the ID Studio lab, a design research community of Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology. He teaches and organizes various courses on interaction design for interactive products and interactive environments. His main research interest is to develop digital technology that is accessible to end-users and he considers his educational activities as a main driver for this research.

  • Mathieu Gielen

    Mathieu Gielen is an Assistant Professor specializing in design for children’s play at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. He has been trained as an industrial designer. Therefore, he has combined design research and education at TU Delft with design work for industry. He aims to foster opportunities for free play, in the face of changing societal circumstances and technological possibilities.

  • Bahare Barati

    Bahare Barati has got her bachelor and master degree in Industrial Design from University of Tehran. She got her second Master’s in Integrated Product Design (IPD) at Technical University of Delft. Her PhD finished in association with Light. Touch. Matthers, an EU project, with the aim of supporting designers in co-developing a smart material composite. She also works as a lecturer and researcher.

Benefits of participating in this event


Learning theory from sophisticated Professors.


Practicing the role of semiotics in generating novel ideas


Receiving double degree certificate


Cooperating with International Professors and students

Publishing work

Publishing final work in the website


Enjoying the high quality facilities of KIC.


This workshop was held with 60 participants; 50 BA and MA students and graduates from different universities of Iran, mostly Industrial Design and 10 BA Product Design students from ALBA University of Lebanon. The participants were divided in ten teams, which were combination of different universities, cultures and level of knowledge and abilities. Each team worked on one project due to the procedure of the workshop. The teams and their projects will be introduced in following pages.