Whether or not they can fully verbalize the feeling, all kids dream of playing in spaces designed and organized just for them and their unique interests. And while it’s true for grown-ups too (many of us are just older “kids”), this blog post is not about us. It’s about the fact that playroom design matters.
The third featured brand in our 2020 set of PowHERful Brands is Smart Playrooms. Karri Bowen-Poole is the founder and CEO.
Many years in the classroom gave Karri ample experience in creating environments that encourage open-ended play, allowing children to be curious and learn effectively because they want to do it. When she chose to leave teaching, she took her passion for education with her, first by organizing play spaces in people’s homes. Her on-the-job observations informed recommendations on colors, features and furniture. And the business transformed.
Although every house, family and room are different, Karri routinely plans three distinct spaces that enable children to independently tap into specific types of play. These are: pretend (make believe and dramatic play), physical (encouraging kids to be active, move their bodies, and conquer big challenges) and building (open floor + manipulative toys like Legos and blocks).
In the beginning, physical play wasn’t as much a part of Karri’s playroom designs. But even before COVID-19, she heard from parents that kids’ schedules were becoming tighter, allowing them less opportunity for free movement. Now, with COVID-19, the need for physical play at home is even greater. She often works ladder rungs, climbing-wall holds, swings and even punching bags into designs for families’ playrooms.
Typically, Karri will consult with and complete playroom design projects for about 60 families every year. Recently, she’s been partnering with designer Denise Davies to create play spaces in multifamily buildings. Karri anticipates growth in this area of the business to pick up again, especially as building managers reevaluate common areas for changing demographics and resident needs.
In the stay-at-home spring and summer of 2020, Karri and Denise worked with trusted manufacturers and curated playroom materials for a new e-commerce site, allowing parents more of a DIY approach to improving their children’s play at home. This à la carte approach is now featured on the newly redesigned Smart Playrooms website, too.
Business growth and shifts aside, it’s the bread and butter of the business that Karri enjoys most—connecting with families, learning about their goals and their unique aesthetic, and assisting them in creating environments that will enrich their children’s lives at home. Smart Playrooms is a grounding, creative brand that inspires people to think more expansively and intentionally about the youngest among us, and how and what they’re learning every day. We think it’s a brilliant brand, and we believe in what it’s doing in the world.
Now in our 50th year of business, Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.