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I always tend to "carve" my workspace on my personality. Our offices could be pretty anonymous but I tend to stick postcards or flyers on the wall, hang quotes, or stuff my desk with potentially the most unuseful stuff and magazines.
But that makes it cozy, to me. And doesn't make me hate the place when I have to be here overnight.
Isn't it all about "making it right for you"?
I don't know, maybe is just that I never worked in a place wiht the CreativityLab above, so I tend to make the best out of what I have...

PS I'll add soon pics of what I mean on Flikr.

I certaintly agree with this idea. And I think it's worth adding that creative spaces are multi-sensorial. The sound of a buzzing location through the window, experimental chillout music, heat/cold, sunshine/thunder, aromatic smells, and even the 'feel' of how you're dressed can affect your mindset and stimulate those creative receptors. Students, just try revising to classical music ..

Over at flickr there's an Annotated work spaces group http://www.flickr.com/groups/81853392@N00/ that allows people to show their own personal workspace.

All very good points. Maybe we should also have a 'good for working' playlist. I find the very dry techno from this moscow online radio station works quite like classical music. - http://www.deepmix.ru/index-e.php

(just how pretentious am I?)

and thanks for the tip michael, I'll check that one out.

Back in September, I wrote an article for IF! where I examined my hotel room and found that the placement of furniture blocked my creativity.

While researching the article, I came across a story written by a first grade teacher from Louisiana. She rearranged her classroom, added open space and her students immediately started paying attention.

Recently, I switched jobs and my new work space is in a sea of cubes. I prefer my old space with a giant window but each cube here has an individual whiteboard. Having this temporary place to express myself really helps. It would be quite interesting to see an entire cube made of this stuff.

I think this is a swell idea for its own blog.

For me, current media is essential - that is news, movies and music that is informing the work we're doing.

Huge stacks of CDs, DVDs, photobooks and perhaps most essentially, a couple of internet connected machines.

Walls to put stuff. Shelves to hold stuff and a big screen and projector.

Some nice comfortable seating couldn't hurt. As cheesy as it is, bean bag chairs would be perfect for ideation.

One more thing. Part of the reason that I so enjoy working in places like Starbucks, the bookstore, department stores, or outdoor cafe seating is that:

-it's open.
-it's has noise without being loud.
-people leave you alone.

In conference rooms that are quiet and dull, people (myself included) say stupid things to fill the silence.

Every meeting I've ever been in that had natural light and a view has been better (more creative, more productive) than every meeting that hasn't.

My agency has a 70s retro creative lounge in tasteful shades of orange and brown (will try and post pic to flickr tomorrow)- but the creatives have to fight off hoards of account handlers who want to use it for brainstorming :-)

Even though I do not work in a "creative" field, I understand the need for creative or thinking/writing space and I can think of several things that I have in my office that makes it a more inviting space to work, and echos a lot of what has been said in the comments:

- large window, with natural light
- 1 large whiteboard, with 7 different colored pens
- Several colorful posters on the wall of art that I like/festivals I've been to
- comfortable conference chairs
- a surface other than my desk to work at - such as a small table - so I can get away from my piles of stuff and think.

I'd also like to add that another good thing about working at Starbucks are the comfy chairs and the venue for people-watching to let the mind wander off.

I guess a "creative space" should be confortable and look at least a little bit nice so you don't count the minutes to leave. Have quiet places when you need to concentrate, have references like books, videos and magazines when you need to look at different stuffs. And in case it has other people, they should be nice if you need to talk about something. (besides the natural light, etc already mentioned).
In the agencies I've worked in the creative departments are more close to this, and the other departaments (account, media, etc) have non of this caracteristics.
I feel that my room in my home is much more “creative” because it is quiet if I want it to be, it has the music I like when I want to hear it, nobody bothers me and I feel confortable and safe (to think about whatever I want) there.

the best sound i've discovered is the distance album from marconi union. it's the type of music that induces the "flow".

itnues url : http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=81425219&s=143441

It's been my experience that the most resonant thoughts come, not as a result of hard, focused concentration but rather indirect, slightly detached thinking...usually about some other motivating things. Some sort of jump into a related but different world.

With the limited room I have, I try to surround myself with interesting things from other related worlds. Deliberate distractions. Places where my thought can wander. Sport, music, history books, pics of friends, family.

It's uncanny how often it lands you in a place you'd never get to by conventional hard thinking.

A couple of thoughts:

To pick up on something fernanda said (or implied) about a wide and varied supply of stimulus:
I once worked in a media agency that had the dullest, driest, most "corporate" offices I've ever had the misfortune to sit in. It also provided access to a huge cross section of print media. Not much else, but loads of magazines.
And looking back on it, that wide range of stimulus - provided by a single medium - coincided with quite a productive period for me. (I can't vouch for the quality but the quantity was impressive).

This is a longwinded way of saying I'm not so convinced that the nature of the "space" itself is as important as other factors, such as access to stimulating stuff.

Which kind of leads to my second observation, which follows Russell's point that a creative space's "very existence seems to suggest that you're not supposed to be creative in the rest of the building."

The wider implication of this is that the very existence of a "creative department" implies that other departments should not be creative. I remember reading somewhere (Funky Business?) that a department store with a shoplifting problem tasked certain individuals in "security" to focus on shoplifters. Thefts subsequently went up, largely because the general shopfloor staff felt it was no longer their repsonsibility to police shoplifting.

(Incidentally, I now sit in a lovely office with loads of natural light, art and stimulation. I'll post pics if I get my arse in gear.)

You said you only wrote one post but this touches upon it:
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2003/10/what.html

Belief has produced a great video about this exact topic quite a while ago, it can be viewed here: http://newstoday.com/cinema/film.php?id=28
The video provides some great ideas about how to improve your creative work space, focusing on stimulants a lot.

I myself work in an ad agency where the whole enviornment is somewhat sterile, everyone's only allowed to pin stuff up on the board behind their desks. I once put up a postcard on the cupboard above where I sit and got told by the big boss to take it down.

To compensate for the lack of windows and natural light downstairs, they put in fake windows which are holes in the wall with frosted glass and fluro tubes behind them, not very helpful when it's 8pm and it still looks nice and bright outside.

Okay Patrick. So developing this trajectory of thought further then, 'structuralist' arrangements can stifle creativity. Perhaps the analogy of the Brazil football team formation is helpful here (the 'creative capital' of which Nike knows plenty about perhaps?) In which case then, perhaps the answer lies in Russell's other friend 'complexity' (or at least compressed creative space) and CC'ing the entire office on the creative brief! Sorry - mind has a tendency to go creatively adrift post midnight .. must learn to stick to my excel spreadsheets

A morning reflection on creative spaces and their opposites: I noticed I tend to keep my bedroom as empty as I can... and I thought it could be because after uploading all the stimuli I need room to let them "breath", so to speak... anybody else has something like that?

Luca, I completely agree. I think its important to have a reflective area. Empty bedrooms are good. So are rooms with a view. There is something contemplative about looking at life from a distance. I also like walking to work - wondering as I wander.

I work at a great little naming and identity firm nestled in the unlikely setting of Greenville, South Carolina... and we have a fabulous creative space. All of us are in lovely, green, open, vaguely amoebic pods... no offices, no doors - not even the partners. There are a lot of great specifics about the place, but overall, I really think it's the amount of open space that we allow ourselves that makes it feel conducive to creativity. That's a problem with a lot of creative spaces - they feel the need to pack the space with stimuli, which I just find distracting and a little manic. I like the freedom and flow open space allows. I'll post some images on Flickr soon.

So there's a couple of themes emerging here:

The need to be surrounded by stimulus.

And the need to be free of stimulus.

Which is an interesting balance to strike.

Personally I like to work, most of the time, in an environment that has a lot of stimulus, but then occasionally escape to somewhere a bit emptier. Which, when you think about it, is the opposite of a lot of business environments. The everyday setting is pretty quiet and sterile but then when 'creativity' is required they put you somewhere bright and stimulating. Maybe business environments should be the other way round.

And by the way, thanks to everyone for joining in, this is really interesting and energising.

We don´t have any "creative spaces" at the place I work. It´s a very Dilbert-like environment (only in terms of furniture disposal, I hope - but what you are saying is that Dilbert-like furniture leads to Dilbert-like thoughts....oh,god....). Anyway: rather than a "calm" or "stimulant" creative space, I´d rather choose to have a "architectonic mechanism" that would make it easier for me to actually meet + relate + speak + work (develop work / thoughts) with different people all of the time.

Russell - not sure if you've seen this before but here are some pictures and info about the Pixar offices. They look amazing
http://thisishappeningtome.typepad.com/where_is_the_hotel/2006/03/behind_the_scen.html

in one of those spooky synchronous interweb moments Creative Generalist just posted this http://creativegeneralist.blogspot.com/2006/03/inspiration-and-elaboration.html about the needs for inspiration and elaboration which sort of echoes the need for stimulus and lack of stimulus.

If you fancy peeking into some creative peoples workspaces, adtothebone has been collecting them under the name "boneyards of the creative". Real offices, all different.

http://www.adtothebone.com/boneyards/

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