The year is 1987 and the last thing on Barbara’s mind is play structures. Her focus is on building beautiful, intricate decks as part of Outer Space Design with her then-boyfriend Bob. One day they get a phone call from a woman looking for someone to transform her entire steep yard into decks and steps and gardens. Her name is Debbie, wife of Bobby McFerrin (who today is a ten-time Grammy winner), but Barbara is unfamiliar with his music and is most excited by the chance to make so many decks. At the very bottom of the yard, Debbie wants an unusual and artistic play structure. As it is her first one, Barbara’s research consists of playing at parks throughout San Francisco, which leads her to incorporate monkey bars, a slide and a tire swing into her design. The tire comes from her truck, the monkey bars are metal rods suspended on chains.
Abstract carved totem poles, each one unique and hand-carved, are the unifying artistic element of the structure.
This corner of the yard is transformed into a quirky, engaging play space for the McFerrin children and Barbara has found her passion. Instead of decks, she now knows she will devote her life to creating unique play structures for children, although friends and family warn she will never make a living at it.
And the McFerrins? They are thrilled with their new yard and years later ask Barbara relocate it to their new property when they move.