The Power of Play with Chloe Varelidi

“I’ve worked with kids all my life, but when I became a mother myself, I realized how babies, that’s the first thing they do before they even talk, you know, they just play and tinker. And that’s how they understand the world and how they learn.

And then as, we grow older, play is our favorite way of coming up with new ideas, and… play often becomes social. So you start playing with others. And it’s a key way, actually, for us to develop empathy, and connect with the people who we play with. Because the thing that happens with play is that, when you’re playing, you’re in what we call this ‘magic circle.’ So it’s this invisible boundary set by the rules of the play and you’re present, you’re connected, you’re equalized, you’re kind of ready to listen and learn from each other.”

Chloe Varelidi is the founder of humans who play, a new design firm with offices in Washington and (soon Nairobi) that uses play as a force for good.

Prior to starting her own practice she was part of the early teams at the Institute of Play, Quest to Learn, the Mozilla Foundation and littleBits where as a play designer she launched everything from top rated apps, to franchise products for Marvel & Disney, to a public school featured on the cover of the NYT Magazine. 

Chloe has won multiple awards for her work along the way, including some from ISTE, TOTY (toy of the year) and Common Sense Media. She is recognized as one of the GOOD100 for shaping the world in meaningful and creative ways and frequently lectures about harnessing play as a force for innovation and doing good. Chloe is an Adjunct Professor at The Corcoran School of Art & Design where she teaches Interaction Design.

To learn more about Chloe and her work, check out her website humans who play and follow her on Instagram at @humanswhoplay. You can also view some of her previous work at