How Worlds of Wow is fulfilling the mission to create more playful worlds for all through intentional design.
Kevin Cravens went to art school with the intention of working as an animator but ended up with a job as a concept artist in the theming industry. Going from the classroom where success was measured by grades to a job where the success of the company was based on his ability to connect with a client is what he called the beginning of his real education.
Cravens, who is now the creative director at Worlds of Wow, said it was at this first company he began to understand the positive impact well-designed environments can have on the development of children. “It also helped clarify my role of being in service to the client and their vision, and that true creativity happens within budgets and deadlines,” he added.
It was not long after while doing freelance work that Cravens clicked with a particular client – Worlds of Wow. “The owner’s vision, my talent and our combined work ethic helped us to grow the company to where it is today,” he described. “Over that time, I went from the artist solely responsible for concepts, detail drawings and any digital production to the creative director managing a team of artists, developing new products and helping to grow our brand into other markets.”
When describing his vision for Worlds of Wow, Cravens shared the four values he works to build his life around:
- Connection. “I believe being able to connect with others is a foundational need for us as humans,” he said. “I pursue this by being present in my interactions, looking for small intimate connections and creating spaces that bring people together.”
- Authenticity. Being the best version of himself is important to Cravens. “That means being true to who I am and living boldly in that,” he elaborated. “I want to support others in their journey to be the best version of themselves, too.”
- Love. Cravens strives to treat others with kindness, acceptance and encouragement. He looks for ways to be practical in his love toward others.
- Creation. “I’m never content with the status quo,” he said. “I always ask questions, push boundaries and make bold moves.”
And with these four values driving his vision for Worlds of Wow, Cravens said they all add up to the company’s mission — to create more playful worlds for all. This means:
- Playful is a state of mind that creates joy, learning and connection.
- Worlds represents the stories the team gets to tell that activate imaginations and get kids moving.
- For all is the belief that play and a playful state of mind are fundamental needs for everyone.
What makes the Worlds of Wow team different is how they fulfill this mission. Cravens said it starts with intentional design and results in connected communities. “Most organizations have a team of volunteers willing to throw some paint on the walls or have the ability to get a few play components into their space,” he said. “We take a step back to understand our client, their vision, community and goals, and then let that guide the development of the space. This all works together to create a space that is an active participant in helping to connect communities.”
Cravens elaborated this process of discovery is one of the most fulfilling parts of working on the Worlds of Wow team. By asking a lot of important questions, truly listening to the client and exploring all possibilities, the Worlds of Wow team helps to solidify the world they want to create in a space.
“When we first partner with a client, all we have are big, rough ideas,” said Cravens. “Then putting that first concept in front of the client and getting the, ‘Yes! That’s it!’ is something I never get tired of.”
While being fulfilled in his work is important, Cravens added the thing he’s most proud of is the Worlds of Wow’s team-based culture. “We understand what we do takes a group of talented people working together to create something beautiful,” he said. “The journey to the installation can be messy, but we give each other grace, stay solutions-oriented and always make it right for our client.”
When deciding to work with Worlds of Wow, Cravens shared the key differentiators partners can expect:
- Design with inclusion in mind. This can mean more than just a room tailored to specific needs. Instead, whole spaces can be designed for kids of all abilities.
- Skills and talents are in service to clients. “We have big ideas and don’t mind sharing those,” said Cravens. “But our goal is always to understand our clients’ goals, vision and audience, then apply our skills and talents to help make it all a reality.”
- A true turnkey solution. The Worlds of Wow team can fully bring a client’s vision to life from beginning to end. “They don’t have to pull in several different companies to get things done,” said Cravens. “We take care of it all for them. From concept development and project management services to production and installation, we work to make it easy and enjoyable for our clients.”
If your facility has always thought the potential of your space could be so much more, this team has a process set up to help discover and maximize that potential. And because each community is diverse, Cravens shared a few suggestions for how facilities can get started when making these creative decisions.
“Consider holding a roundtable with local families and other recreation professionals,” said Cravens. “Ask questions like, is your space designed with inclusion in mind? Does your environment encourage connection? Your space can be a place to create opportunities for kids of all backgrounds and abilities to play together. Hearing from local families is a great first step.”
Lastly, Cravens said don’t forget the whole family when it comes to designing your environment. “There is always a focus on the kids, but what about mom and dad?” he said. “Are we creating opportunities for them to connect with each other? Have we created a space where they have opportunities to play? A playful family is a healthy family.”
In community recreation, unique spaces to engage members of all abilities and ages is vital, especially in a growing digital world where encouraging movement is constantly challenged by devices and screens. This is why Worlds of Wow is looking for partners who understand their spaces can be an active participant in accomplishing their goals and creating a more playful world for all.