When we think about play, we often imagine a child’s world of toys and games, but who says that play has to be confined to our childhoods? With 20 years of experience researching play and bringing over 200 physical and digital toys to market, IDEO’s Toy Lab has come to realize that the opposite of play isn’t work, but boredom. Michelle explains how IDEO’s Design for Play team sees play and its potential to bring delight and engagement not only to the youngest customers, but also to people of all ages, through products and experiences that live beyond the toy aisle.
About Michelle Lee
Michelle Lee leads the Digital Kids Team, an integrated team of researchers, designers, and developers bringing engaging, interactive and playful digital experiences to market. Their work includes beloved children’s apps Balloonimals and Monster Moves as well as partnering with respected brands like Sesame Workshop, Fisher-Price and Leapfrog to co-create favorite apps such as the top-ranking Elmo Calls. With a strong belief that playful elements should not be reserved only for toys and apps, Michelle also enjoys contributing to IDEO consulting projects, applying play to the broader context of our daily experiences.
Throughout her career, Michelle has been driven by a desire to bring thoughtful solutions to fruition through human-centered design. Designing toys at VTech and University Games fueled her passion for play, while lead product roles at thredUP and ShopWell – a health and nutrition IDEO spinout – ignited her spirit of entrepreneurship. Her IDEO tenure includes design research and product design roles, influencing products and services across food and beverage, consumer products, education, entertainment and retail. Michelle holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in the Joint Program for Design from Stanford University, where she’s also served as an instructor.