We had a chance to talk with them about their vision and their business – and we snagged a few decor tips for enthusiasts too!
A child’s play environment affects their independence, focus, creativity, and behavior. A child’s play space should inspire them to engage, invent and expend their energy in a really productive way.
Tell us a little more about you? How did you start your business and why did you decide to turn their careers around?
We’re Jodi and Anne, co-founders of grOH! Playrooms, an educational design firm based in Washington, DC. We create spaces for our clients (and for our own families!) that sit at the intersection of play, education, and good design. grOH! Playrooms was born in 2017 while we were both on maternity leave. We were sitting on the floor of Jodi’s playroom, and, essentially, with the simple sentence, ” I think we should start a business,” we did just that!
We created grOH! with one big goal… make play easier for families. As educators, we know play is at the center of childhood learning, growing, and relationship building. As parents, we also understand that play is really hard for busy families — and we know how to help! The answer is to create inviting, organized, and purposeful play spaces because they change the daily experience of EVERYONE in the household. It felt like a natural progression from the classroom to the playrooms for us!
Where do you find your greatest inspiration?
Our own kids inspire us every day! But we also really enjoy getting to know the families that we work with. It truly informs our design choices. If the kiddos are into putting on plays, we’ll build them a stage! If they are climbers, we’ll build them a climbing wall and monkey bars! The possibilities are endless.
As educators and specialists in designing spaces for children, what are three tips that you can give to parents who seek to create a space that invites their children to be creative?
- Start a toy rotation – Just like us, kids can get overwhelmed when there are too many options. When you narrow it down, they’ll also get more creative with what they have.
- Make it easy for them to be creative – Keep arts and crafts supplies, Magna-Tiles and building blocks, even gross motor toys like the Wiwiurka XL rocker accessible so they can make masterpieces and tell stories whenever the mood strikes.
- Implement systems to curb the clutter –Think of it like having a clean workspace. You feel more inspired when you’re not thinking about the mess! A clutter-free playroom leads to higher-quality play.
Within its spaces, are there elements that are repeated? What do you take into account when you design a space?
We have 8 types of play that we always incorporate into our spaces! And in addition to the ages of the kiddos we also think about the parents in the space. It’s so important that the educational playrooms work for everyone space-wise and fit into the flow of the home. We want the space to be as (or maybe almost as) inspiring to grownups as the kiddos.
The space should invite the entire family to be relax, imagine and create.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge for children growing up in highly tech and adult- oriented environments today?
Technology for kids is marketed as educational, but it can actually distract them from the freeform, imaginative, open-ended play that helps their brains grow and make sense of the world. Sometimes we need to de-schedule our lives to make time for our kids to just play. Our goal is to help families make the time and the physical space that makes play, creativity, and imagination easier and more full.
What are your favorite items that you try to include in your designs?
We are huge fans of dramatic play, so toy kitchens are always a winner for us. We incorporate gross motor play toys into the playroom to help kiddos get the wiggles out. Lastly, we believe that putting diverse books and toys into playrooms and truly using them as tools to teach anti-racism can help change the world.
If you could include a Wiwiurka toy in every space you design, What would it be?
We absolutely love the XXL Rocker! Gross motor play is so important for growing minds and bodies, but we also adore seeing littles transform the rocker into bridges for their train sets, boats for their dolls, tables for tiny resident chefs etc.! In the perfect playroom for toddlers and older kids, there should be open-ended toys that allow them to explore different possibilities as they grow.
The XXL rocker isn’t only versatile, but incredibly fun for children and parents alike!
If you could describe the perfect playroom in 3 words, what would they be?
Open-ended, inviting, and organized!