Being playful through fantasy may be the most practical thing you can do for yourself, says a UC Davis design scholar.
"Adults need to play: It's the No. 1 issue in today's society," says Dolph Gotelli, professor of environmental design and a visual presentation expert. "Because fantasy play is lacking in our society, everything around us is very stagnant. We're losing the mind-to-hand creativity that we need."
He suggests that people can be playful by creating their own fantasy designs: Make up a fairy tale, design a garden using found objects, dress in costume when it's not Halloween or use food to create an art form. As for home design, Gotelli advises, "Ignore the current trends found in magazines and don't be afraid of color."
For the past 25 years at UC Davis, Gotelli has been teaching undergraduate students from all majors just these techniques through his class "Fantasy Design, Imagination and Creativity."
"Fantasy design" is not found in contemporary movies, video games or comic books, according to Gotelli. Rather, he defines the concept as taking functionally designed objects, like clothing or furniture, and redesigning them by using a creative, personal approach.
A busy scholar, teacher and curator, Gotelli says he breaks away from work by taking time to collect fantasy objects. Gotelli has amassed the world's largest collection of shopping bags, tens of thousands of Christmas ephemera dating from the 1860s to the 1920s, antique toys, fake food and masks among other items.