Play With Me – A Journey to the Self

Play With Me – A Journey to the Self

Jue He

This plant themed space design explored whether D.W. Winnicott ’s developmental psychological theory could be applied in an interactive interior design to offer a psychotherapy experience for the space users. Through a playful planting experiment involving 5-8 years old children with their parents, voice records were collected during the experiment to generate 3D form artefacts, and these 3D form artefacts further developed into interactive space forms to be used in the interior. The project explored whether an interactive interior design could be effective in psychotherapy field, and to what extent or in what kind of ways interior could affect the space users. This project aimed to study the cross disciplinary area between interiors and psychology, to explore how and what interactions might exist between the interiors and human.


Why do I choose to realise the project on a physical site? The primary reason is that in Winnicott’s theory, playing happens at a place he called a potential playground, overlapping the external reality and inner world. But how can a community garden design be capable of carrying a function as psychotherapy? I propose to embed the key elements I found in Winnicott’s theories.

First, the playing. I designed the garden as a maze garden, beside the planting function, the visitors could play hide and seek in it. Moreover, as observed in the experiment, the participants strongly favour words like “Be Still” and “Stop it”. I propose that the art of the maze walls could rotate and change the maze path by voice control. For example, when a visitor speaks “Abracadabra”, the wall in front of him will turn and open a new way; and when the visitor communicates “Be still”, the wall will freeze for several minutes. This is to bring the visitors an experience of being all power as omnipotence.



Second, the conflict between destruction, and survival must be so intense that it reminds me of a volcano eruption making the whole world turns red. Therefore, I have a volcano bouncing bed in the maze garden. As when I was so angry when my mum couldn’t understand me, I would want to shout and jump and stamp my feet to crack the earth. That attack would be fierce; only a mother’s love could hold it and absorb the attack and turns it into a tender echo.


Third, they destroy and survive. I watched a Japanese animation called Night on Galactic Railroad. There is a scene about the characters enter a rock cave which turns out to be the fossil of an ancient animal’s body, as a giant monster ate them. I feel it echoes the theme of “I’ll eat you up, and I love you, so” therefore, I translate it into a space with powerful monster fangs. Therefore I give the volcano a harbouring house derived from the shape of the mother’s breast.

Fourth is the sparkle. Back to the beginning of what I am looking for in the darkness. Maybe I am looking for a true self that might be as shining as a sparkle. The 3D forms developed by the voice recording from the experiment are used as a symbol of the flash.



A Sparkle

I thank you, Mum,
for giving me the hand to touch;
the eye to see; the feet to walk;
to let me taste the joy of being in this world,

I once thought your arms were the whole
holding the tiny sparkle inside me.
Glow, glow, glow.

Until I saw your face,
Tears hiding in your wrinkles.
Grow, grow, grow.

I tried to stand up to lift your hands,
my tears dropped down into your rough skin.
It is my blood.
Flow, flow, flow

I forgot
I was a child too.
The wild darkness ate me up.
Grow, grow, grow.
No! No! No!

I was angry! I was fierce! I was shouting:
Stop it! I am not You!

I will eat you up-
I love you so!

Let the wildness grow,
Let the ocean tumble by,
I am not afraid at all,
I am not afraid anymore.
I will sail off through day and night
and in and out weeks and years
to where the wild things are.

By the day,
when the storm surrenders,
the tide will return me to you.
As my sparkle shines,
leading my way.

Could you still
cook the supper
and leave it hot in my room.

By Author (Jue He)




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