Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Shelby Rashap Graphic Design


UX design

Our existing definition of social infrastructure, as our relationship to space is shifting from physical to digital, must translate to an intentionally playful and experimental digital infrastructure. Through analyzing the design and formal qualities of open spaces for play, this thesis project examines materiality, abstract form, openness, and comfort in order to propose guidelines for the design of digital playscapes. This parallel exploration between physical and digital playscapes defines the formal qualities of these spaces while allowing for freedom and experimentation of its users within these designed systems.

Playgrounds act as social infrastructure spaces that allow for socialization, experimentation, education, and collaboration. Social infrastructure is the category of public structures that enrich the quality of life for a specific community. These spaces are essential to the development of independence, creativity, and collaboration within communities. Through looking at existing playgrounds, both traditional and innovative, this project extracts formal elements that contribute to users experiences within these spaces.

As we transition to an infinite digital world, this open design practice becomes even more essential to create freedom and experimentation amongst users. Giving way to desire paths in our system lets the users be informed by their own knowledge, rationality, motives within the environment. By creating open systems and spaces that incorporate social infrastructure we can create spaces of activation between people, communities, and ideas.

This thesis is explored through physical pillows, a play event, and a digital site.