Creativity at Work: Creative Spaces


By Kerry Lee Special to the Herald

Are work and living spaces set up for optimal creativity? I recently met Creativity Architect Donald Rattner, AIA, whose specialty is applying scientific research to the design of buildings and spaces for the purpose of optimizing occupant creativity. He says creativity can be built. He’s got over fifty criteria for creativity tactics and shared these important five:

  1. You have to have a space. The space needs to be delineated and have a separate boundary from other types of space in the building or room. This creates a Pavlovian response for the brain; when you enter your brain knows it is creative time.

  2. A space that opens up in some way, horizontally or vertically and doesn’t feel confined. This can be a window or a view, just avoid tight dark spaces. Don says we think more creatively when we’re in spaces with high ceilings, have our backs to a wall and can see into the distance.

  3. Keep things flexible and multi-functional. Think of new ways to be flexible such as a worktable that changes function or having wheels on heavy seating furniture.

  4. Populate the space with items that evoke nature like plants and growth elements. Perhaps a poster or painting of a landscape or even a wood table. Our close connection to nature’s creativity equals human creativity. Keep your pet nearby!

  5. Give the eyes plenty of things to explore and move around in. This increases the connection between the left and right hemisphere and heightens neural activity.

And even with these factors in place one thing can wipe it all out: as Don says stress is a creativity killer. Stressed out? Take a break and lay down. Author Marcel Proust was famous for writing in bed. So was Truman Capote, Edith Wharton, Edith Sitwell, William Wordsworth and Mark Twain. Thanks to experimentation now we know why: we’re prone to be more creative lying down than sitting upright.

You’ll find more tips on creative spaces at www.DonaldRattner.com. Next week’s topic is Sparking Creativity with ideas on ways to spark new ideas.

Kerry Lee, a 25 year Benicia resident, is a Certified Intentional Creativity® Teacher and Coach, leading group workshops, experiential retreats, mobile social painting parties, customized corporate team building and corporate social responsibility events and teaching essential oil lifestyle and wellness classes. Find her at KerryLeeArt.com / #TheAlchemicalArtist

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