Ideas aren’t fussy about where you have them, but that doesn’t mean that you have to make it harder for yourself. Hollywood always reminds us that staring at peeling wallpaper from your mattress on the floor, while desperation sucks at your soul, often produces the goods. But once survival mode has been transcended and there’s food on the table, things tend to change a little.
Suddenly, having an idea, or getting others to have them, is merely part of the business grind. It is not going to help that the meeting room has brown walls, no windows and chairs designed for those who prefer to stand. The cause is further hobbled if this is the same room where, in the previous week, management announced how its layoff and wage freeze policy was actually good for everybody.
Sometimes the reasons are tangible and sometimes not- either way, certain spaces are better than others at helping produce ideas. It is smarter to walk past the brown room, take the lift and up to the roof garden of the building. Even if there’s no roof garden. Sitting on an air vent while watching the janitors laundry flapping in the breeze, is more conducive to original thinking than staring at a crooked flip chart in a faceless meeting room.
Change the physical space you’re in and your brain follows suit. While it’s obvious that one of the easiest ways to kick start the brain is by changing the real world that surrounds it, this is rarely done. Instead, ideas are relentlessly demanded from endless rows of glass cubicles or from the sea of an insipid open plan. It’s difficult to find inspiration when the colour scheme of the average workplace is variations of oatmeal and the only environment that talks back to you is the automated coffee machine.
That said, it is unlikely that many organizations will invest in a Zen garden or appoint a feng shui master to the board. However, you don’t have to go to extremes to make your surrounding work for you.
Play a piece of music at the start of the meeting. Turn the pictures upside down and see if anyone notices. Ask everyone to bring in their favourite quote and pin them to the wall. Spend ten minutes with the light switched of and think in the dark. Released from the four walls, ideas float everywhere.
Whether through schooling, habit or plain laziness, our thinking develops a thick crust of sameness. By changing our environment, even momentarily, the space we operate becomes a powerful ally in cracking the sediment.
At the very least, go for a walk. Listen to you footsteps and watch your shadow. The space you return to might be the same, but you’ll be different.
This is exactly what our designers did to arrive at the final version of Hercules ENESSERE Wind Generator. They overturned the rules of the technological field which normally does not have an aesthetic character and is difficult to understand by creating a technological designer sculpture that produces renewable energy from an inexhaustible source, the wind.