Space, Place, & Creativity

The spaces in which we live and work are seeing the greatest singular overhaul since the early 1950’s and at a far faster pace. Where space might have been a low consideration and often thought little about, the early 2020’s have shown us that we cannot take space for granted. It’s also provided us with an opportunity to reconsider what we want, not only what we need to be effective, healthy, and creative.

Kicking off a periodic series in thinking about supporting innovation ‘next’ we start off with four ideas about space — the physical, aesthetic, and organizational.

Six Feet Office

Property developer and management firm Cushman & Wakefield has been exploring what a Six-Foot office environment might look like. Drawing on an experiment from their Amsterdam office, the company has put together a plan to illustrate how to convert a traditional open office space into something safer and more consistent with physical distancing recommendations. The plan has recommendations for movement, meetings, navigation, and maintenance that are designed to help organizations transition from their standard office to something adaptive to the context of distancing and safe hygiene practices.

Beauty

Few would consider publishing a book in the middle of a pandemic a good idea, but for Steven de Groot it might end up being ideal. Dr. de Groot’s book, Organisational Aesthetics, brings to the front the idea of beauty in the workplace. This is not a book about interior design; it’s about the way we structure our work, our teams, and the environments in which we create. The book focuses on issues of quality management, progress-tracking, and the way to apply design thinking to problems and their solutions. Through attention to the look, feel, process, and outcome of what we do holistically, an attention to aesthetics can actually produce more effective, creative, and healthy teams and orgnanizations — and more beautiful products, too.

Relocation Sabbatical

Getting away from the day-to-day can be invigorating and promote creative thinking. What if your entire organization just picked up and moved to another city and country for a month? That is the premise behind Mentimeter‘s annual physical sabbatical project. Every year the company relocates its entire office to a new city for one month. The idea might be extreme, but so far the company has found benefits in having people share in the experience of learning about and adapting to a new place together.

“As we grow I think that’s the biggest thing with these relocations — people get to know other people in their organisation, in a real way, where we break the silos that are being created at work for efficiency reasons.” – Johnny Warström, CEO Mentimeter

Inclusion and Space

As the 2020 pandemic lockdown unfolded, I had the chance to virtually chat with architect John Peterson from MJMA and discuss the role of space in our lives and how we can think about space using what we know about public health and systems thinking. The Quantization podcast episode, produced and directed by Arezoo Talebzadeh and Kaveh Ashourinia, explores the challenge and opportunity posed by transforming our homes into our ‘everything’ in times of sequestering and how we can create more healthy spaces for work, living, and community to better withstand and thrive future situations where the old normal is no longer possible.

Our space shapes us just as we shape it. In both cases, this is about linking the human and physical through integrated design. We’ll be exploring much more about this in future posts.

For more on how to implement all of this, reach out. I can help.

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

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