The ‘Why’ behind Neko Playwaves

February 4, 2022

Open-ended play, inspired by our own children

Since launching Playwaves, we get asked a lot where the inspiration came from for these unique playground designs. We’re very proud that our own children were a big part of inspiring the Playwaves designs. But why?

As a company founded by two growing families, our children have been part of Neko from the day they were born. They are growing up seeing what we do, and often making observations as to what they think we ought to design. One thing has become very clear, their imagination is endless. And naturally, our own interests have expanded over the years to include the thing that they enjoy most – playing!



The power of imagination

Like most parents, we spend a lot of time at playgrounds, and it’s always interesting to see how children interact, both with the equipment and with other children. Observe a child at play for a while and you’ll see fascinating things. Their creativity seems to expand when they’re left to their own devices. Boulders and logs become pirate ships, castles, animals and more, just with the power of a little imagination! The simplest things become much more detailed. Often, when faced with traditional playground equipment, they lose interest much more quickly, heading off to play nearby with whatever else they can find.


The limitations of traditional playgrounds

In many playgrounds the proposed activities themselves are quite limited and specific. Go up the steps and down the slide. Repeat. Climb up the frame and swing from the bar. One at a time! The magic of children playing freely – and the endless social and creative aspects that come from it – can become very limited on a traditional playground. After watching our children play, we came to the firm belief that play areas should respect and encourage the power of a child’s imagination.



Open-ended play experiences

We set out to design an experience that would spark joyous, open-ended play. A unique play sculpture that wouldn’t dictate how to play, but instead invite you to create your own adventure. The different Playwaves designs all feature sweeping curves in bright colours. Multiple heights and different areas to get on and off. Children of all ages and abilities can safely climb, slide, jump, or roll on the continuous flexible surface.

What we had hoped would happen, does happen. Children of all ages playing together, imagining together, making the experience their own. They’re immediately drawn to it. Without any guidance, they play on top of it, under it, around it – the sculpture becomes a centrepiece to their expanded creative play. Sometimes older children congregate at the top to sit and chat, while the younger ones enjoy jumping on the lower areas or sliding down the slopes. With every child there is a new imaginative experience to be had.

The things they say make it even more rewarding:


“I did cartwheels and jumped and played a lot” Robert, age 7

“I loved being able to run, climb and jump, it’s really big” Ophelia, age 6

“It’s like a slide, but better” Ana, age 8

“I met other children and we made friends” Sofia, age 5


So there it is – imagination – the ‘why’ behind Playwaves. And it seems that people were looking for this. The Red Dot Award jury even commented on it when Wave won a Red Dot design award in 2020:


“The design of Wave is impressive…for its play opportunities that stimulate the imagination”.


We’re now working with like-minded distribution partners in 8 countries (and counting!). If you’d like to see Playwaves in your local play areas or distribute them in your country, contact us!



Wave 3 won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award in Germany! Read about it here


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