This article investigates the potential of play for design practice and theory. First, drawing on the works of linguist Emile Benveniste and philosopher Giorgio Agamben, I propose a theoretical understanding of play as an act capable of suspending and deactivating means-end relations. Second, I articulate what this deactivating potential of play entails for the field of design through close readings of a series of works by Italian architect, artist, and designer Ugo La Pietra. In doing so, I uncover the politics that this deactivation within design seems to point towards—a politics of play.

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