Adam Day: Promoting Creativity with Physical Environments - Lake Harding Association

Adam Day: Promoting Creativity with Physical Environments

Adam Day: Promoting Creativity with Physical Environments

By Micah Moen 1 Comment September 13, 2019


Good morning, everyone. I’ll be leading the last session with Chris
Congdon from Steelcase, and we’ll be focusing on the built environment. I think this is a very crowded field. We’re all in various ways trying to get our
teams to set the stage. I like the theater analogies earlier today,
because really it’s about stage setting to figure out how we can prime our teams to be
more creative. Let’s see if we can get our slides up here. This is very much sort of going from macro
to micro, looking at the passive environment and understanding what can work. There’s been a lot of, I think, simple applications
of a lot of the creativity research that’s led to a lot of silver bullets. I think you read about them in the blogs everyday
about we need to add plants, we need a baristo, we need to lighten the colors, we need to
put everyone in the same room, they need to be in different rooms, on and on and on. I think we’re realizing of course that we’ve
talked about today, that the creative process is obviously much more complex than that,
and it’s also very paradoxical. There’s a lot of creative tensions that we
need to solve. We felt that in looking at this, the best
way to frame it is more in the analogy of a recipe. We’re all cooks at some level, and a lot of
our energy has been focused on the main ingredients, things like comfort, control, inspiration. It’s definitely been part of, I think, the
positive psychology and things that make us feel great and prime us to sort of be at our
best. The problem comes is that when we design experiences
or environments that create these emotional sensations, it ends up being a little bit
more like a cruise ship atmosphere. High levels of satisfaction, probably low
output in terms of original ideas but everyone feels great. We have to balance the main ingredients with
some spices. Actually, it’s counterintuitive but we need
things like stress, surprise, constraint, things that are uncomfortable, sometimes they’re
unwelcome. The challenge is if of course we have an environment
that is only spice, it’s kind of more like an interrogation room than a cruise ship. That doesn’t work either, and so we have to
figure out a way to resolve these tensions. All of these things need to be true in the
space, and the question we’re going to explore is that balance process. There’s an additional layer that is a challenge
for the environmental design, which is all of us need a different mix at a different
time. You think about the design process and architecture
and trying to design things for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, knowing that you have people
coming in and out, each of whom have a unique need that changes over the course of the day. How do we create environments that actually
can help us achieve greater creativity? Our teams will be looking at this idea of
tension, and finding, and discussing what are the best solutions that we know of now
to create these emotional responses within a space, both on our main ingredient list
… This is not exhaustive either. There’s other things here. Boredom, arguably, is a very good creative
input here … But also on the spice side. Then look at not just what creates these responses,
but importantly what are solutions that can move us between these tensions or across them
to make our environments more tunable, more dynamic, more responsive so it’s not an astatic
experience. We’ll be trying to energize and change how
we think about the built environment to drive the creative process. Looking forward to discussion. Thanks, everybody.

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