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Top trends in indoor play equipment

Is your new equipment delivering the latest innovations and ideas?

Indoor playground equipment has seen significant advancements in recent years, driven by evolving consumer demands, technological innovations and a greater focus on holistic child development. As shopping centres and other commercial venues seek to enhance their appeal and provide value-added experiences for families, the role of indoor play areas has become increasingly crucial. So how do you ensure your new equipment is delivering the latest innovations and ideas?

Let’s explore some top trends in indoor play equipment, focusing on the latest innovations and design philosophies shaping the industry.

Indoor playgrounds and the emphasis on holistic development

Playgrounds have long been championed as places for kids to challenge themselves physically. Equipment such as climbing frames, mini obstacle courses and balance beams encourage physical activity, improving strength, coordination and motor skills. But this is just one of the ways in which indoor playgrounds support childrens’ overall growth and well-being. Research emphasises that play is essential for healthy brain development, showing that children who engage in regular play also have better cognitive, emotional and social outcomes.

To apply this trend when we’re designing indoor playgrounds, we look to include activities such as puzzles, mazes and interactive panels that stimulate cognitive development, enhance problem-solving skills and creativity. It’s also important to facilitate social interaction, encouraging children to play together, communicate and develop social skills. This can be as simple as taking turns to go down the slide.

Modular play systems

Flexibility is key in modern playground design and modular play systems are at the forefront of this trend. These systems allow for easy customisation and scalability, making them ideal for shopping centres and commercial venues with varying space constraints and needs. Importantly, they allow manufacturers like us to offer our customers cost-effective playgrounds without compromising on design flexibility, not to mention tried and tested components, fast manufacturing and installation, as well as easy maintenance and repairs. While people outside of the industry – and kids – will think each playground is completely different, by using modular components you can ensure it’s safe, durable and economical.

Focus on safety and hygiene

Safety has always been a priority in playground design, but recent trends have placed an even greater emphasis on creating safe and hygienic play environments. This shift has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring the need for stringent hygiene practices in public play areas.

This makes material choice more important than ever. Most centres have also introduced enhanced cleaning protocols, with regular and thorough cleaning becoming an important standard practice. As playground manufacturers, our job is to ensure we make our equipment as easy to clean as possible and provide a full and clear set of instructions to our operators. If managed correctly, it’s easy to ensure your playground remains a safe and hygienic play environment.

Eco-friendly play equipment

Sustainability is a significant consideration in contemporary playground design, reflecting a broader commitment to environmental responsibility. Eco-friendly play equipment uses sustainable materials and practices, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers and businesses. A limited number of manufacturers, including PlayOn, are now able to use recycled plastics and other materials in their play equipment, reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability.

Nature play is also becoming increasingly popular. For indoor playgrounds, this involves incorporating natural elements such as wood, plants and even water features into the playground to increase the aesthetic appeal and create a connection with nature, promoting environmental awareness among children.

Customisable and themed play areas

Customisation is a significant trend, allowing playgrounds to reflect the unique character and branding of the venue or location. Themed play areas create immersive experiences that captivate children’s imaginations and enhance their playtime.

There’s a number of different ways in which a playground can be themed. Firstly, play equipment can be customised with a venue’s branding, creating a cohesive look and feel that increases brand recognition, repeat visitation and aligns with the overall experience. More commonly, themes can be used to reflect cultural stories, historical events or educational content, adding an extra layer of value to the play experience and promoting learning through play. This is also important in tourism parks or local parks, where the objective is to create a sense of place and belonging.

Inclusive playground design

Inclusivity is a growing focus in playground design, ensuring that children of all abilities can enjoy the same play experiences. This very welcome trend is driven by a broader societal shift towards inclusivity and the recognition of the importance of play in child development.

Features such as wheelchair-accessible ramps and ground-level activities allow children with disabilities to engage in play alongside their peers. There’s also an increasing focus on equipment designed to stimulate the senses, such as textured surfaces, sound panels and visually stimulating components, that benefit children with sensory processing disorders.

What about the role of technology in indoor playgrounds?

Globally, there’s an increased demand for technology-integrated play solutions. This can include touch screen play panels, allowing for interactive storytelling, games and learning modules.

While technology enhances indoor playgrounds by making them interactive and educational, it also brings several downsides. It’s no secret that increased screen time reduces physical activity, leading to major health issues and limiting social interactions. Then there’s overstimulation, reducing the opportunities for imaginative play, as well as the high initial spend and ongoing maintenance costs that comes with technology. While there’s no doubt this trend will continue to increase upwards, it’s essential for playground designers and operators to strike a balance. Preserving more traditional play elements ensures that children enjoy a well-rounded play experience that promotes physical health, social skills and creativity.

The indoor playground equipment industry is continuously evolving, driven by advancements in technology, a focus on inclusivity and safety, and a commitment to sustainability and child development. Shopping centres and commercial venues that invest in the latest trends in indoor play equipment not only enhance their appeal but also contribute to the well-being and development of the children who visit them.

As a leader in designing, manufacturing and installing indoor playground equipment, we are dedicated to helping you create the ultimate play experience. Contact us today to learn more about how our innovative solutions can transform your shopping centre or commercial venue.

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