Playing for Keeps: Robust Putty Binds Found Objects into Colorful Furniture

Colorful but powerful, this strong synthetic dough (dubbed PLAY) looks like modeling clay made for kids, but can hold together all kinds of materials including wood, metal, glass and marble. The idea, in part, is to facilitate creative freedom, allowing anyone to become a designer.

Developed by London designer Stephen Johnson started with Play Doh and other similar materials, but found he needed something more — a mixture that was both pliable but also could form a durable solid when cured for connecting parts and pieces. The components can be just about anything, including leftover furniture bits and pieces, construction materials or simply found objects.


“The objective was to design functional products using kids dough, but given its soft nature it’s just not feasible,” he explains. “I needed a material that looked and behaved in the same way but became rigid over time.”

He spent years developing his secret recipe, an organic/synthetic hybrid, that is easy to mold, stick and make solid. Then, for fun, he began mixing in colors, mimicking some of the other more playful variants already on the market. The multi-hued results also encourage a certain level of experimentation — if the object is going to look a bit wacky anyway, why not use a broom handle here, or a toilet plunger shaft there?


“It is about the innovative freedom we had as kids, being spontaneous, putting objects and materials together without restriction – designing in the moment with our hands, imagination and the things we have around us.” In the end, there are a lot of possibilities, from crafting colorful furniture and decor objects to modeling, arts and crafts applications. Or really: anything fun.