As usual, last Saturday’s #Ideachat on Twitter was a fantastic hour hosted by Angela Dunn, with this month’s topic on creative spaces. Angela led us through an #Ideachat discussion on how physical spaces affect our creativity.

This has been an occasional topic on the Brainzooming blog, although our focus is more frequently on what helps boost creativity in specific situations vs. what instigate creativity in certain locations.

Surroundings definitely matter to my creativity, not so much for their impact on the ability to come up with ideas as my creative disposition.

For me, great creative spaces are very open, allow creative tools to function easily (and well), and provide the opportunity to look at what I’m working on from multiple angles. Great creative spaces have a lot of square footage per person, giving the mind room to wander (and wonder).  Many business people use Starbucks and Panera as office getaways, but for me, these are spaces, but not creative ones.

It’s not because they’re noisy, because I do like noise most of the time, too.

My wife marvels at me having a TV going, maybe music, and the social networking channels open while I’m working on something else. These noise sources compensate for too infrequently having people around in person. I’m more creative when collaborating since I’m always smarter and more creative when smarter & more creative people are around. And it’s beneficial to be with someone in person because you get the full set of creative cues going back and forth when everyone is together.

Even distractions can work for me in the creative process if they’re somewhat relevant to what I’m working on at the time.

Restaurants are some of my favorite creative spaces, especially ones with white paper table cloths all ready for drawing with Sharpie markers. Although it doesn’t have the paper table cloths, Nordstrom Café is a great creative space for me; must be something about all that open space  (as shown here).

Ultimately, you can’t move a creative space around with you. That’s when creativity tools and exercises come into play. They’re portable and can help instigate creativity even when the surroundings are lacking.

Those are what my creative spaces are like. How about yours? – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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7 Responses to “Creative Spaces – What Do Your Creative Spaces Look Like?”

  1. Jim Joseph says:

    Love it!  I have a few Starbucks that I go to that always help me.  My home office too.  Open spaces with lots of noise … either from people or the tv or music!

  2. Thanks for sharing more details than you could on Twitter. I like paper table clothes, too. I’ll do my best to post my thoughts on creative spaces sometime soon!

  3. Love Nordstrom Cafe… hadn’t thought to work from there!  Great idea.  I like independently owned coffee shops (like The Roasterie) and sometimes public libraries can be good places to work.

  4. Some really good ideas here…I just cleaned my home office, which really seemed to make a huge difference in my creative frame of mind.  Although, I did work with creative director at an ad agency who had the absolute messiest office I have ever seen.  For me, I’ve found that having some music (jazz and interestingly Buckethead) and brightly-lit spaces of my library and some coffee shops help, too.  Caffeine and some food helps, too.  Enjoyed your post.

  5. Once a week I do “Burritos and Brainstorm” with my team and make a point to all go to lunch somewhere together and brainstorm ideas for at least one of our projects. We’ve found that creative ideas flow better when we are in the act of eating and being social. Mostly because there are natural, non-forced pauses and distractions. For example; when the server takes your order, when you spill salsa on your sketchbook, or when you are in the act of eating that monster taco. We make sure to plan what we are going to talk about, and we all have our sketchbooks ready, but we allow the process of eating lunch to take it’s course and in turn, our creative thinking is much less forced. Some of our BEST ideas have come from a B and B session. 

    • Mike Brown says:

      Great approach Clifton! What a fantastic example of using your place and experience as a way to introduce random inputs into your creative thinking.

      Hmmm…..didn’t you do the KC taco Pecha Kucha presentation a few years ago? If I’m remembering correctly, it’s all making sense now!


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