Our minds are complex and 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, every day our senses are subjected to what we experience in these enclosed spaces.
At present, many case studies have shown a 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 to coming up with a building design from acquired data. While EBD primarily focuses on healthcare facilities, its scholarly research affirms 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 in your office space is not merely shifting from cubicles to open spaces. 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 a 15% increase in employee productivity is 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, and 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 vast 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, daylighting is emphasized here due to its crucial role in successful space planning. Natural lighting evidently improves cognitive functions and prevents eyestrain in employees. Research conducted has shown that employees who receive natural daylight have reported fewer sick days than workers who work in enclosed spaces.
Solar tubes, clerestories and skylights are effective ways to bring in natural light to dark areas indoors. Sunwell’s 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. Colour can dramatically change the mood of 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 is seen to be gaining popularity in line with the growing popularity of social media and the internet. Uptight and formal lounges appear 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 of employee interaction, but creating too many 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 interpret it in our minds. In conclusion, to keep the 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.
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