Our mission at Play is to create a new paradigm that empowers people to design more thoughtful and impactful digital products. Create better products, in less time, with fewer barriers.
We started to imagine a world without the barriers of today’s traditional workflow.
Creating a direct connection to the medium would enable a more frictionless workflow, empowering you to design and experience your product at the same time.
You would be able to experience your designs, in real time, exactly how users would experience them. You could make changes to your designs and play around with new ideas — experiencing how they would look, feel and function, right in that moment. No simulations or “live previews.”
Create and experience a real product, in your hands, from day one.
This core idea started to unlock other “what if” scenarios:
What if you could collaborate with your team to design, interact with and test dozens of ideas in a matter of hours — without ever breaking flow and leaving a whiteboard session?
What if every discipline — strategy, UX, visual design, copy, engineering — could collaborate as one team within a truly integrated workflow?
What if you could give your dev team an Xcode file instead of static design files? Since you would be creating in the native environment, you’d actually be building a real product as you designed — all without writing a single line of code.
And so our journey began.
How it Started
Play was founded by four partners: Michael Ferdman, Joon Park, Eric Eng and Dan LaCivita, who all come from different backgrounds and disciplines. It was born out of a convergence of experiences we had while building and working at design and technology agency, Firstborn, founded by Michael in 1997.
As a designer and developer, Joon would often code quick prototypes of something he designed to see how it felt.
“I remember one day I was at home checking out designs for a mobile experience on my phone. I would always save the designs so I could view them on my phone to see how they would look and feel in my hands — I think a lot of designers do this. When you are checking designs out on your phone, you may want to tweak the font size, or change the layout a bit. But you need to make a mental note, go to your desktop, make the change, then sync back up with your phone. It’s a whole process, and it completely breaks your flow. I always thought there was something about making changes right in that moment, and seeing how they would look immediately would be amazing — but there was no way to do that. And that’s just with static designs. To create or change a ‘prototype’ from your phone…forget about it!”
For Joon, and many others, experiences like this had become more frequent, begging the question, “Isn’t there a better way?”
Early in our process, Joon created this demo one night to see what using gestures to adjust a simple interface would feel like on the phone.