Our minds are complex that our potential to create masterpieces and innovative ideas is unbounded and profound. But then, there are the looming questions:
- Where does our creativity come from?
- Is it innate or is it rather an influence or inspiration from the surrounding environment?
“Inspiration comes from within” While it holds truth, it is more of a poetic statement. It is evident that how we think, speak, perceive and react are largely influenced by our environment. For many, we spend most of our days at work, this means, for long hours, everyday our senses are subjected to what we experience in these enclosed spaces.
At present, many case studies have shown the strong correlation between our environment and our creativity. Such as the EBD or Evidence Based Design for instance. It was developed as a scientific approach in coming up with a building design from acquired data. While EBD primarily focuses on healthcare facilities, its scholarly research provides affirmation for other occupancy types such as office and residential spaces.
More companies today are now leaning towards the mantra “happiness sparks creativity”. Big names such as Google, Apple and Pixar have made changes to their office designs stimulating creativity and encouraging collaboration among different departments.
- Trends for Office Space
Encouraging creativity and productivity into your office space is not just merely shifting from cubicles to open space. There are actually many factors to consider. Nature of business, company mission and vision, employee demographics, availability of space and budget are general aspects that interplay into your final office design.
- Biophilic Design. Nothing is more inspiring than nature itself. Around 15% increase of employee productivity are seen in workplaces that have integrated nature into their office design.
There are many ways to bring nature to an office space. For generous spaces, pocket gardens, open terraces with plantings are great additions.
The Apple company’s 175-acre corporate campus called “Apple Park” provides employees with 10,000 trees, planted across the wide area.
For smaller spaces on the other hand it is more challenging but possible. Vertical gardens can curtain down through walls and can well be a screen to define in between spaces.
- Day Lighting. While an element in biophilic design, day lighting is emphasized here due to its crucial role in successful space planning. Natural lighting evidently improves cognitive functions and prevents eyestrain to employees. Research conducted have shown that employees who receive natural daylight have reported fewer sick days than workers who work in enclosed spaces.
Solar tubes, clerestoreys and skylights are effective ways to bring in natural light to dark areas indoors. Sunwells and solar tubes are great design solutions that are primarily used in areas where windows are not possible. This is common in most commercial office spaces.
- Green and Vibrant Color. Color can dramatically change the mood of a space as well, depending on the nature and service of the company. The overall color scheme of an office should be relaxing but not bare. Create spaces with different color treatments to define each space. Break out from the usual white plane wall facades by adding green or lime colors on walls or hallways. Vibrant colors such as adding neon accents can stimulate the eyes. Patterned walls with nature-inspired prints can also boost energy in the office atmosphere.
- Furniture and Décor Pieces. The return of graphic and art-deco are seen to be gaining popularity in line with the growing popularity of social media and the internet. Uptight and formal lounges appears to not work with the youth. Create instagram-worthy cockpit seaters or include interactive wall puzzles or games. Three-dimensional décor pieces are great visual stimuli for employees and clients.
- Office Layout. Encouraging collaboration among departments is seen as a strategy for younger companies. Where hallways and break rooms are laid out to raise the likelihood for employee interaction, but creating too much common spaces can defeat the purpose.
- Summary (Take Away)
So, is creativity innate or environmentally enhanced? I think, both complement each other. Our senses perceive information and quickly interprets it in our minds. In conclusion, to keep creativity flowing we need to feed our experiences and a good way is to provide a working environment that keeps our senses awake. Encouraging interaction among employees is another way to spark creativity.