Everyone knows the value of creativity and innovation for the success of a project. So how do you keep inventive ideas coming day-to-day?
Take a cue from artists whose business it is to create. Simply adapting your office to function more like an artist's studio can nurture your intuitive thinking skills and take your career to the next level. Visual artists know a thing or two about fashioning an environment to support their quirky habit for exploration. They take time to be curious, to study nature, to trust their unique interpretation of the world around them, and to experiment, fueling a steady flow of creativity. Artists also practice risk-taking and recognize failure is an essential component of success, embracing the old adage - if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. As students, artists are taught to learn from other people's ideas and then expand upon them. Collaboration with a colleague who has a unique set of skills is another tradition artists embrace, often turning a ho-hum concept into cutting edge design. Change-up a work environment to incorporate a few key studio habits and even the most linear thinker will find their new space supports stretching their cognitive ways for award winning ideas. Here's how;
White Is Just Right
Ever notice studios are almost always a bright white? Not only does this color most dramatically amplify the natural light of a room, white is a cool color which helps with focus. If the space is poorly heated, add a touch of yellow to the paint and the positive feeling of sunlight will adjust for the low air temperature and encourage attention.
With white walls and ceiling in place the visual artist, or creative wannabe, has a backdrop to see their work in stark relief. For those in product design, marketing, or working with equations, the white of a “blank canvas” signals the start to the creative process and is the perfect display space to keep work on view. Whiteboard paint (which turns any wall into a white board, floor to ceiling) facilitates the process of working out ideas on the walls of your space to be revised and improved throughout the day.
Try Matisse's habit of putting recent or unfinished work where you can see it out of the corner of your eye. This technique lets your intuitive brain have a run at the problem. An indirect visual scan of a design can reveal what isn't working when you least expect it. Posting incomplete ideas on the walls also creates opportunity for colleagues to comment, which can be transformative. Just the act of explaining something that you are struggling with to the casual observer will catalyze your own thinking. Shared space or an open door encourages these informal critiques.
Keep Nature Close At Hand
There are many reasons nature needs to be a part of your office re-design to stimulate creative thinking. To begin with, nature has the best ideas! Many successful products were borrowed directly from nature – the sticky burr was the source for Velcro, to name one. Artists will adorn window ledges with found objects like shells, rocks and driftwood to enjoy and inspire.
If your habit is using your smartphone to capture intriguing natural images, get them off the screen! Have them enlarged and made into prints and posters so they can be studied indirectly while you work. Fascination ignites constructive thinking. Start your daily cognitive workout looking at nature from images you have taken and “speak to you.” Photos are the first step of a creative process that will encourage more ideas.
Your office may not overlook a scenic landscape, or anything remotely natural, but a glimpse of the sky can keep you in mind of weather, the time of day and the seasons - established rhythms of your local ecosystem. Remember how expansive your thinking gets when star gazing, moon watching or stepping out into a new snow? Wonder is a starting point for creativity, triggered by the awesomeness of the world outside the office.
Inside, you can “host” nature when space or company policy allows. Fish, your family dog, even a plant will improve your office life. It is well known that contact with nature is calming and restorative. Flora and fauna that make up our world can provide respite during a busy day. Plants personify growth and positive energy while bringing the outdoors in. During the evening they have the added advantage of filtering the air. Some even add a forest scent that stimulates the senses and calms.
Surround Yourself With Work That Worked
Awards and trophies are nice reminders of success, but do they truly stimulate the memory of your accomplishments? It's easy for an artist or designer to pin up prototypes or finished images to illustrate successful solutions, but all jobs have important discoveries along the way that can be made into visual inspiration. If you are having trouble distilling your process for a wall display, ask the marketing department to help. Easily ordered and applied vinyl letters or numbers can show off your best quotes or mathematical solutions to encourage more of the same.
Collections of objects that exercise your passions have a place in your studio too. Many artists collect the work of others in their field or a craft they admire. Borrowed ideas can kick-start your own unique perspective, initiating the process which then leads to original creations.
Leave Your Tools Around
Display the tools of your trade by keeping them on hand for use on a whim. If you are well trained to put things away, this practice might take some getting used to. Artists find inventive ways to keep colorful materials and favorite supplies in view; in jars, hung on the wall, or in open shelving. The added step to extract these tools out of a cupboard to begin a project can curtail an urge to play. It is well documented playful exploration is highly effective for solving problems and making headway when other approaches to the process fail. So take this suggestion as an opportunity to get messy!
The successful strategy of curating your workspace for creativity requires furnishings be made less visible. When asked what color you want your desk, your file cabinet, your chair – white, white and white. Easy! Camouflage the things that will clutter your old/office, now/studio, freeing it from the frenetic to focus on the curious, the successful, the admirable and the outstanding.
Consider your new studio space as a habitat and choose the elements that condition your work experience wisely. Artists have relied on these proven practices for centuries with the result of making the ordinary into art; transforming our world with their awesome creativity. Your instincts will respond in ways that might surprise you. When trading your office for a more inspiring environment, be prepared for a creative surge and the potential of elevating your work to an art form.