Sharon Exley

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Sharon Exley makes play an art.
In 1994, Sharon co-founded Architecture Is Fun, a Chicago design and research-based studio with a focus on play, public space and design for kids, families, and communities. She is a multi-hyphenate: a designer, educator, author, mentor, and firm president responsible for the design of branded interiors and studio management.

Award-Winning Educative Designer
Sharon serves as educative designer on learning and play projects across the U.S. and in Canada and Rio de Janeiro. Sharon’s interior design work has been recognized with numerous honors and awards including the American Society of Interior Design Awards, International Interior Design Association Awards, CODAworx Collaboration Awards and American Library Design Awards. In 2012, Architecture Is Fun was awarded the Benjamin Moore HUE Award for exceptional use of color in commercial architecture.

As a co-leader in the studio’s trademark participatory process, Sharon has envisioned public space, play and branded experiences for The Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Children’s Museum, Calgary Public Library, Rio de Janeiro’s Lagoon Explora and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Thought Leader
Sharon is the author of multiple publications, several forewords, journal articles and a frequent guest speaker at conferences and guest author for a multitude of design and family-centric magazines, journals and publications.

Sharon graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts in Arts Education with Museum Emphasis. Sharon is an active member of the American Society of Interior Designers, serving recently as a juror for the ICFA Design Excellence Awards.

In 2011, Sharon founded the woman owned business, Fun Finders, a companion procurement company presenting a curated collection of distinctive products, objects of curiosity and custom millwork, décor and furnishings for clients and colleagues.


Peter Exley

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Peter Exley takes fun seriously. Peter has established an internationally recognized practice of architecture for children, families, and communities, which elevates the standards of design for learning and play environments.

Peter listens to kids, clients, and communities. This multi-disciplinary approach is what distinguishes ArchitectureIsFun and helps create safe, engaging projects that immerse children and families in play and exploration. As the firm’s co-founder with over 25 years of experience, Peter leads the design effort, from initial concept through project realization. As the direct point of contact for project design and development, he assures that projects meet their pragmatic, quantifiable criteria: accessibility, program, budget, and schedule. Listening to the needs of children, clients, and communities, Peter considers criteria of a qualitative nature, the inspirational and developmental. Using all three criteria to inform design sets Peter’s work apart, creating projects in which children are inspired to play and learn.

It is all about looking at the world with child-like wonder and understanding. Peter is an architect, Fellow, professor, artist, author and parent. He uses these forums as a living laboratory vital to the methodology of educative design, sharing passion and practice with clients and communities, students and colleagues. Champion of childhood, Peter creates archetypical learning environments and architecture for children that is recognized for the fun, education, accessibility, play, and family interaction that they provide. Through his practice, Peter nurtures a consciousness of design as a lifelong expectation and pursuit.