Meet the Makers: Hello Play Collective

A dynamic new addition to the Chibitronics Design Team, the powerful trio comprising Hello Play has already left us clamoring for more! In their debut post, Exploration of Unusual Materials and Circuits with Chibitronics LED Stickers, curiosity and a practice of open-ended experimentation conjure up an amusing menagerie of glowing objects! Read more to learn how this inspiring collective of brilliant minds is approaching important work—and meaningful creations—informed by boundless play.

Andrea Spykstra
Celeste Moreno
Mariana Tamashiro
Glowing guitar pick by Hello Play!

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves and your group came to be.

Hi! We are Hello Play, a collective of designers, educators, and creative technologists, who design meaningful and playful experiences. Founded by the hands, hearts, and minds of Andrea Spykstra, Celeste Moreno, and Mariana Tamashiro, Hello Play emerged from our shared passion for nurturing the creative spirit within each of us.

We met at the ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder, where we embraced a radical antidisciplinary approach to design, technology, and learning.  Those themes became core interests to us, and from a desire to work together, we created Hello Play. Drawing inspiration from the iconic “Hello World!” in programming, our name expresses our belief that technology can be a playful material for creative expression and learning experiences. 

How would you describe the work that you are drawn to do? What do you most enjoy making? Why do you do it? 

We are drawn to design experiences and tools that support people expressing themselves creatively. From combining machine learning with picture books and storytelling to experimenting with paper maché circuits, we love engaging people in unusual and creative learning experiences. 

Paper Maché bowl by Hello Play!

When people engage in experiences driven by curiosity, experimentation, and playfulness, they inherently cultivate a sense of agency. Over time, this creative agency empowers them to envision themselves as capable individuals who can actively shape, design, alter, and remix their environment to better suit their needs and desires.

What do you most want people to know and understand about your group’s story, creative process, or sources of inspiration?  

We want people to understand that play, joy, and creativity are fundamental aspects of the learning process, regardless of age or background. At Hello Play, we want to create experiences in which learners of all ages and walks of life can explore and create in a playful way. Drawing from our diverse experiences in academia, education, and industry, we bring an interdisciplinary perspective to our creative process. By integrating elements from various fields such as design, engineering, crafts, and more, we design experiences that can resonate with a wide range of individuals. 

What inspires you? From where does your creative drive or motivation to create originate?  

Many things inspire us! From the shadows of a tree on the sidewalk to a creative way to debug a line of code. The shape of an electronic component or the intricate details of embroidery techniques – each can lead to an idea for a project. 

In terms of people and groups, there are many that we are inspired by, especially from the global community of tinkerers, makers, and creative learning enthusiasts. However, we want to highlight a few of them that have been essential in our journey: the Tinkering Studio, the Lifelong Kindergarten research group, the Wonderful Idea Co., the Hand and Machine Lab, and the Creative Communities research group (that we all have been part of!). 

Light- painting demo by Hello Play! Collective

Although many things inspire us, probably what creates the biggest motivation for us are the learners of all ages that we work with—seeing people create something that brings them joy or seeing people learn how to do something new is creative fuel for us.

What are your interests?  What are you passionate about?

As a collective, we are interested in exploring how to create novel and engaging experiences out of quirky (bubbles, playdough, candy), traditional (paint, glue, tape), and novel (AI, laser cutters, 3D printers) tools and materials. We live for the “aha!” or “wow!” moment when a learner tries or discovers something new.

As individuals, Andrea is a black tea lover with a heart for education, a keen eye for design, and a knack for creative endeavors. She is currently captivated by large-format printers.

Celeste is always chasing the feeling of being a kid who finds the coolest rocks to put in their pocket by designing creative learning experiences for curious minds of all ages. Recently, Celeste has been interested in all things textile from sewing clothes to weaving with codable LED lights.

Mariana is a fervent supporter of all things sparkly. She merges theory and practice to stir creativity in others. Her favorite shape is the hexagon and is currently tinkering with automata made of candy.

Cardboard automata kit by Hello Play! Collective

What challenges or joys have you encountered during your creative/ professional journey?

As a collective with diverse experiences, interests, and talents, we often struggle to clearly define “who we are” and “what we do.” Since we interact with people and companies from a wide range of different industries (anything from traditional crafts like painting and sculpture to emerging technologies like AI and machine learning), we often have to reframe our value to different stakeholders.

Finding value alignment can also be a challenge when we share our work and our perspectives. Sometimes it takes a bit of energy to explain that the playfulness that we advocate for is not in opposition to how serious we are about our work. We are deeply thoughtful when designing fun and playful experiences. It is precisely the playful and creative components that create a space to make mistakes, explore, and create meaningful experiences. 

One of the greatest joys of being together at Hello Play is working with people who share similar values. Working with like-minded people not only brings moments of joy but also creates a sense of safety and trust within our team. Also, the “aha” moments always put a smile on our faces. Either where someone figures out how to make something work or how to do something that they didn’t know how to do before. 

What advice might you give to young makers?

One piece of advice for young makers is to embrace experimentation and perseverance. Don’t be afraid to dive in and try new things, even if they seem intimidating at first. Thomas Edison famously remarked that he didn’t fail 1,000 times in inventing the lightbulb; he simply found 1,000 ways that didn’t work. So, if your initial attempts don’t go as planned, don’t give up! Instead, view them as valuable learning experiences. 

Also, finding a supportive community of fellow makers can be very helpful. Seek out mentors, join maker spaces or online communities, and collaborate with others who share your interests. Not only will you gain valuable insights and encouragement, but you can also form meaningful connections in your journey as a maker. 

How are you using Chibitronics in your creations?

We are interested in exploring unusual, collaborative, and educational ways to use Chibitronics in our creations. For example, in our last exploration, we created a project with unexpected materials (plastic bag, guitar pick, paper maché). In terms of collaborative projects, we want to experiment with the possibilities of creating something together even though we are physically located far away from each other. Also, we are interested in using Chibitronics to facilitate learning more about STEM topics like engineering and computing alongside arts topics and exploring how these topics can be deeply interconnected. 

Plastic bag flower by Hello Play! Collective

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

More information about our collective and our work can be found in our Instagram account:

Meet the Makers: Hello Play Collective
Scroll to top