LONDON — As companies the world over struggle to address workplace wellness, one design agency has the answer: balls. Eighty-thousand white balls, to be exact.
When the Pearlfisher agency set up a giant ball pit for adults, it hoped to unleash the transformative power of play. The overwhelming response to the "Jump In!" installation for grown-up fun has tapped into a craving — even a need — for adults to let loose, according to a leading psychologist.
“We all need a little bit of a recess,” said Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, director of the Temple University Infant and Child Laboratory. “It's a necessity and we’ve been treating it like a luxury.”
Hirsh-Pasek said that overwork — especially from behind a desk — can be dangerous for one's health and might one day be considered as bad as smoking cigarettes. In today's "always on" age of Blackberries and all-hours conference calls, finding time to channel one's inner child is becoming increasingly important, she said.
Jack Hart, the mastermind behind the giant adult ball pit in London, would agree. Hart said he believes that playtime allows for different sorts of thinking — and everyone regardless of age should allow time for it.
"The pure excitement of being able to come somewhere and be completely uninhibited, it’s a very powerful thing,” explained Hart, London-based Pearlfisher's senior creative strategist. "Joy and freedom come out of that."
Hart said he hoped to make a statement about "the transformative power of play" by creating the adult ball pit for Pearlfisher's staff and clients — who went wild over their holiday surprise.
"It was absolutely one of the most bizarre things I’d ever seen in terms of the pure excitement that came with it,” Hart recalled.
The pit was such a huge hit within the agency that Pearlfisher decided to share the fun with the British public. The event is fully booked — with proceeds from an entry fee are being donated to the Right to Play Charity for children — and desperate fun-seekers are showing up trying to beg their way in to experience the fun.
"It kind of just, excuse the pun, snowballed,” Hart said.