Meet Stuart and Brendan

We work with two global thought-leaders in the spaces of play and human centred design


Dr Stuart Brown, Author and Founder of The National Institute for Play

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, he first discovered the importance of play by discerning its absence in a carefully studied group of homicidal young males, beginning with the University of Texas Tower mass murderer, Charles Whitman. He later became founding Clinical Director and Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and an Associate Professor at UCSD in San Diego, California. Over the course of his clinical career, he interviewed thousands of people to capture their play profiles.

As he ended his clinical career, he believed that play could be the key to discovering the giftedness that is in everyone. So, in 1989 upon leaving clinical medicine, he decided to pursue play in greater depth.

He was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and lacked quantitative confirmation of factors readily observed clinically. A science and evidence-based way of understanding and suggesting how to improve play hygiene was and still is lacking. He turned to animal play research to gain insights into human play.

With the support of the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he observed animal play in the wild. He became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, and began to see play as a long evolved behaviour important for the well being and survival of animals. He subsequently came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

Brendan Boyle, Partner + Play Lab Founder, IDEO

Brendan Boyle is a Partner at IDEO and his passion for invention drives his responsibilities at the company. He founded and leads its toy-invention studio, known as the Toy Lab. Under his leadership, they have invented and licensed over 150 consumer products, specializing in the design of kid-centric goods, services and experiences. He is also passionate about the intersection between Play + Design Thinking and how these two ideas can bring about creative solutions to today’s complex business challenges—so much so that he created a course “From Play to Innovation” that he teaches at Stanford’s d.School and where he was named a Knight Fellow Favorite Professor.

He is a co-author of The Klutz Books of Inventions and sits on the board of the National Institute for Play where he focuses on bringing play-based techniques to innovation. Brendan is the instructor for the prototyping course on IDEO's online learning platform, IDEO U.

Brendan holds an M.S. in the Joint Program for Design from Stanford University, as well as a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University. A much requested speaker, Brendan is known for his interactive talks that stress the joy of innovation. He loves to run, hike, kite surf (with no wind), play speed golf and has developed a love for fast cars.