By Raul Barreneche
Interior Design Magazine
Sept. 1, 2008
You may think you know David Rockwell. The founder of the New York firm Rockwell Group has made a name designing memorably theatrical restaurants and hotels such as Nobu and the W chain, as well as actual stage sets for Hairspray, Legally Blond, and other Broadway productions. But you probably didn't know that Rockwell has designed portable playgrounds, soon to hit hundreds of schoolyards all over the country. Or that he developed an in-house digital software lab. Here, the gregarious Rockwell-who will receive a National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum next month-talks about what kids do best, stretching technological limits, and keeping one's curiosity in shape.
Tell us about the playgrounds you've designed.
Our concept, called Imagination Playground, is based on the idea of free play. It includes loose polyethylene foam elements that are like big building blocks, letting kids do what kids do best: construct their own world, break it down, start over. There's also a portable version consisting of 150 pieces in two crates. We're partnering with the advocacy group Kaboom! In the next couple of years, they hope to provide Imagination Playgrounds to about 500 schools and communities across the country. The first I.P. is going up next summer at Burling Slip, near the South Street Seaport, while Kaboom! funded the first portable I.P., in Brooklyn...