“When I started to design for children, it was not so common,” says Hay. “People asked me why we needed to design for children – children ruin everything. Luckily people now realize it’s very important to design for children – and [to consider] how we create a narrative and above all, how we use design as a tool for social change and make a better life for children.”
That’s the philosophical bedrock of Hay’s diverse body of work, which ranges from creating handmade toys and inclusive classrooms to designing play spaces for children at hotels and therapeutic environments at hospitals. For the latter, Hay works to infuse these spaces with a transformative sense of play – the effects of which she was able to witness herself. “I’d come to the hospital to say goodbye to the staff, [but met] a young girl in the space – she was five years old and had just gone through appendix surgery the night before,” Hay says. “She was very frightened and confused, and I was curious to see how she was going to react. From my point of view it was sort of a miracle – after a few minutes, without any words, she started to react to the environment, and she looked calm and relaxed. It was like she was regaining control of her destiny. For me, it was a living demonstration of the power of a playful environment for children.”
Here is a selection of Shani’s work:
Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.
Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.