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Christine Kohlert & Scott Cooper

Space for



Contents Foreword: Prof. William Porter, FAIA Foreword: Peter Tzeschlock Preface

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Knowledge work The question of physical space The relentless drive for “innovation” and innovation space The focus of this book

CHAPTER 2 “ACCIDENTAL” SPACES FOR CREATIVE THINKING Natural spaces An “in-between” space Human-designed spaces What do these “accidental” spaces tell us about designing spaces for “creativity”?

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CHAPTER 3 ACHIEVING THE OBJECTIVES Wellbeing Communication Collaboration Concentration Rejuvenation Supporting wellbeing through biophilic design Greenery Light and views Materials and haptics Shapes Color

CHAPTER 4 SPACES FOR WORK Shifting from traditional offices to “neighborhoods“ Combining wellbeing and productivity Making space adaptable and experimental etting past the “combi“ office Creating “trigger spaces“ for creativity “Blurring“ the divide between inside and outside Designing for “chance encounters“ Transforming space to reflect identity Fashioning space for connections

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CHAPTER 5 LEARNING SPACES “Activating“ space to support creativity Planning for new modes of learning Welcoming diversity in how space is used Revealing creativity for all to see Putting a “living room“ in a learning environment Providing the “spaces in between“ Stimulating learning in social spaces Thinking about learning spaces in new ways Inspiring “design thinking“ through space

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Setting a “stage“ for creative thinking Engaging employees and clients together

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Using the workshop approach for Endeavour Partners Using the workshop approach for KIT

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Afterword: Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Bauer Afterword: Catherine Gall & Joachim Müller-Wedekind References Photo Credits Colophon

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This book should be read by those responsible for creating workplaces for their organization, not only the workplace experts and managers but also the leaders of the organizations whose missions can be significantly enhanced through the improved performance of their employees. It should also be read by those working in organizations so they can become aware of how their workplaces can help them realize their potential. Why should someone be interested in this book? Kohlert and Cooper clarify the nature of work in the contemporary world, especially the “knowledge work” that constitutes a large and growing proportion of all work. In doing so, they also underline the strategic importance of creativity. By featuring creativity, they shape workplace making around the organization’s driving force.

Karolinska Institute, Solna, Sweden, designed by Tengbom.

The book contributes a broadened framework for workplace making in several ways. • It draws upon a wide variety of other authors whose work informs our understanding of creativity, providing a useful exposition of ideas and references for how to recognize, think about, and cultivate creative behaviors of individuals and teams. “Wellbeing” is an idea promoted and developed by researchers at Steelcase, which they argue is prerequisite both to satisfaction and success in the workplace. • The authors show that creativity must be enhanced at the organi ational and group levels as well as for the individual. And they emphasi e the necessity to stimulate communication, collaboration, and what the authors call re uvenation as essential to enable creative behavior.


• They call attention to spaces, natural and humanmade, where creative activity seems to occur. By attending to spaces for learning as well as spaces for work, they widen the range of spaces thought essential to enabling creativity. • And by calling attention to certain elements, typically underplayed, they expand the vocabulary of elements and spaces, thus enriching the designers’ vocabulary. They describe research that substantiates the role of nature and natural elements in fostering the engagement of employees in their work—“biophilic design”—that designers can draw upon to enhance creativity. They point to haptic design, the sense of surface texture and material, as well as the shapes that the workplace can take. And they also call attention to exciting research and practice in the use of color in workplaces—all in order to reinforce creative impulses. The authors cite examples that clarify the several levels the designer must address: the corporate culture; the immediate environments (neighborhoods); the variety of people and roles that are part of a work process, including clients, specialists, and other members of the organization as well as individual workers; and individuals’ workplaces, patterns of work, and varieties of experience. The examples illustrate how creative groups and individuals need to be able to experiment and test ideas, virtually and, if possible, physically: • Spaces thought of not just as accommodating people in a nice way, but that enable people to think in terms of what they are trying to envision—an idea—through sketch, trial mockup, evaluation; cycling again, and modifying the idea at each phase.

• Spaces that afford lounging and dreaming, a multiplicity of locations and journeys. • Spaces in which people can display their results in ways that will engage co-workers, clients, and fellow students. Kohlert and Cooper address what kind of process will reframe workplace and learning space design questions in ways that are particularly well suited to each organization. They do this through a process fashioned for one organization. In this example, we can come to appreciate how highly contingent on the nature of the work and the workers any system of support must be. Any formulaic approach is likely to fail. Instead, a patient, collaborative inquiry with those in the organization is necessary. Bringing out and supporting creativity may require not only a change in the working environment, but also an understanding of how people go about their work, and how creativitypromoting behaviors might be facilitated. Moreover, their analysis suggests aspects of space that should be amenable to control by workers over time to accommodate their changing and developing needs. Finally, the authors summarize design principles, guidelines, and ways of working as means by which to achieve the distinct creative potential of an organization. This book will be an invaluable guide for those interested in twenty-first-century workers and the workplaces and learning spaces that can help them and their organizations realize their thoughts and dreams.

Prof. William Porter, FAIA Leventhal Professor Emeritus of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology December 2016





Our world is changing rapidly. We see this at nearly every turn: we are surrounded by and challenged every day by new technologies, ever-shorter innovation cycles, and more and more products and services. Whether digiti ation or mobility, new (renewable) energies or demographic development the only constant now seems to be change wherever you look. The working world, along with learning, teaching, and research, is subjected to particularly high pressure to change. Everyone has already experienced it in principle: we want to bring all our knowledge, expertise, and creativity to these areas. There are good reasons for this: these skills are the basis of an innovation-based economy and society; they promote growth and prosperity. Organizations of all types—businesses, schools, research institutions, and so on today strive to create physical spaces that lend themselves to these two endeavors: creativity and innovation. Of course, a physical space in and of itself cannot create or innovate. But certain attributes of physical space can, it seems, spur and stimulate creative and innovative processes. Providing space for ideas and innovation can unleash creativity and direct it along the correct path. This is something Drees & Sommer has implemented in our own offices, and we have strive to share that success in our work with clients. The book discusses these important roles spaces play—not only theoretically, but also with practical examples the authors have found from Europe and the United States. The book seeks to show how our

Preceding page: Karolinska Institute, Solna, Sweden, designed by Tengbom.

workspaces, learning environments, and creativityspecific spaces ought to look as we go forward. The authors have used the interview format for the text that accompanies the examples, making it particularly readable. We hear the voices of entrepreneurs, employees, and stakeholders. In this way, readers are shown first-hand the approaches taken and the ideas behind the various spaces presented. In short, the book presents—through text, photographs, and illustrations an overview of the world of spaces for creativity and innovation and a primer on how to create such spaces that will inform the work of architects and designers and that provides insights for managers and other organi ational leaders. As I browsed through the photos and read the text, I was fascinated by the variety of approaches and creative perspectives the book brings together. It opens up new possibilities for new, networked thinking, for innovating paths, and for exciting experiments. As a company that always strives to be a step ahead, and that has embraced innovations such as cradle-tocradle design and building information modeling, we are proud to be part of this book.

Peter Tzeschlock Partner and Chairman, Drees & Sommer Stuttgart, January 2017




A little more than a decade ago, a different book project brought us together. One of the present authors was an architect at Henn Architekten in Munich and research assistant to the firm s head, the well-known German architect Gunter Henn. The other present author was working on several writing pro ects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and had collaborated with Tom Allen, then an eminent professor at MIT s Sloan School of Management (since retired) and an expert in organizational dynamics and psychology. Allen and Henn wanted to write a book together, and along with Henn s research assistant (again, one of the present authors) had been meeting on and off for more than two years sketching out their ideas. The two of us ended up corralling those ideas into the words and pictures that became The Organizat ion and Architecture of Innovat ion. (It is worth noting that Allen and Henn, who essentially brought us together, both receive a mention in this book: Tom s famous “Allen Curve” figures in chapter 3, and Gunter’s “programming” cards are featured prominently in chapter .)

Open Table in San Francisco, California, designed by Studio O+A.

We also became friends, and over the years discussed doing another book together. This book became the first opportunity; we hope it will not be the last. We wish to acknowledge the contributions of many people. Sally Augustin, who was originally slated to be a co-author, provided some direction for us to research that we drew on, particularly in chapter 3. She also participated in the Endeavour Partners workshop in chapter and helped write the final report from which we quote. Elise LeCrone and Hanna ohlert were helpful with some other research and, in Hanna’s case, securing some of the photographs used in the book. We are grateful to Joachim M ller-Wedekind of Steelcase for his assistance, generosity, and adventurous spirit—the latter on full exhibit when the three of us paid a visit to his company s world headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan and also to Grand Valley State niversity nearby. We met and discussed with many other folks at Steelcase during that visit, and we thank them all for their time. Amalia Matthews deserves special mention as our wonderful “tour guide” for many hours at the Steelcase Learning and Innovation Center.


Steelcase and Drees & Sommer both were generous in providing financial and other resources without which this book would have never seen the light of day. Drees & Sommer ensured that we could count on the fine book design and layout work of our publisher, Georg D.W. Callwey GmbH & Co. KG. From Callwey, we call particular attention to the work of editors Verena Jaumann and Valerie Borchert and graphic designer Arne lett. Michael A.M. Davies and Sunny Ahn, who lead Endeavour Partners, made a substantial contribution to this book by allowing us to conduct the workshop described in chapter at their firm. It was a win-win situation: we needed a “guinea pig� and they were looking to find some new space. Our workshop results would help inform some of their choices. Their executive assistant, Annie Sewell, made everything possible. Thank you to the many participants in the Endeavour and IT workshops who appear in photographs in chapter 7. William Porter, a great architect and friend who graciously agreed to write a foreword for our book, read through the manuscript at the last minute and made some suggestions that strengthened our presentation immensely. We are very thankful that he did so. We would be remiss if we failed to mention all the architects, designers, and people in managerial roles in various spaces with whom we spoke in the course of writing this book. Many of them are quoted directly in the chapters that follow. They are, in alphabetical order: Andreas Bay, Rosan Bosch, Stefan Camen ind, Werner rosch, Mike Herud, Jan Leibundgut, Primo Orpilla, Maria Phelan, Juan Carlos Rodr gue , Mikkel S rensen, Alexander Strub, Sam Stubblefield, atrin Trautwein, Lee Van Orsdel, Simon Vink, and Susan Whitmer.

rom RBSGRO P, we thank Daniel Rackensperger and Sabine Jenull, who helped develop the model in chapter 6, and Jennifer Brunn, who contributed by adapting those diagrams and many other graphics we use, including a number of diagrams and floor plans. Kyna Leski, professor of architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, provided the inspiration for using the Joseph Woodland barcode example in chapter 2; she tells a similar story in her excellent book The Storm of Creat ivity (MIT Press, 201 ), which is well worth reading. Many other people, too numerous to mention, responded to our emails asking whether we could use this or that photograph and whether a high-resolution version might be available. The book would not exist without their help. Finally, we thank our families. Our spouses endured us staying up very late in Munich on many weeknights or having Skype meetings very early on Sunday mornings in Boston instead of brunch as we uggled the work and the six-hour time difference between our two locations. Weekends in general became work times, and grandchildren had to grow accustomed to seeing the two of us Skyping when they would have preferred us to be playing with them.

Christine Kohlert Munich, ebruary 201 Scott Cooper Boston, ebruary 201




CREATIVITY AND KNOWLEDGE WORK “Creativity is not just for artists. It is for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.” Twyla Tharp American dancer, choreographer, and author


“Creativity” is a difficult word to define. Type the word into a Google search, and the first thing you will see is this: “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” The Wikipedia entry goes further, defining the word by virtue of an outcome: “ a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed.” To its credit, the Wikipedia entry goes on to suggest strongly, even if indirectly, that its own opening definition may be insufficient: Scholarly interest in creativity involves many definitions and concepts pertaining to a number of disciplines: psychology, cognitive science, education, philosophy (particularly philosophy of science), technology, theology, sociology, linguistics, business studies, songwriting, and economics, covering the relations between creativity and general intelligence, mental and neurological processes, personality type and creative ability, creativity and mental health; the potential for fostering creativity through education and training, especially as augmented by technology; and the application of creative resources to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Even that is probably not an exhaustive list. As Mihaly Csiks entmihalyi, a psychologist noted for his work on creativity, writes, creativity is “a central source of meaning in our lives most of the things that are inter-

While creativity may be difficult to define, we “know it when we see it.” Preceding page and above: The creativity of students and workers alike can benefit from spaces for concentrated work and study.

esting, important, and human are the results of creativity and when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” Csiks entmihalyi describes the characteristics of creative individuals and outlines what he calls “antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.” Among his ten, we mention a few: They have a lot of physical energy, but they also have quiet and rest times. They are both playful and disciplined, responsible and irresponsible. They have a rooted sense of reality, but they alternate between that and fantasy and imagination. Creative people are introverted and extroverted, humble and proud at the same time, and rebellious and conservative. They are passionate about their work, while retaining their ob ectivity.1 To be clear, we are using Csiks entmihalyi s list as an example; the same goes for his definition of creativity. His characteri ations support the notion that while creativity may be difficult to define, we generally “know it when we see it.”




In some of his other characterizations of creativity, Csiks entmihalyi makes specific mention of work and work styles. or instance, he characteri es creativity as a difficult process. A “genuinely creative accomplishment,” he writes, “is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a light bulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work.”2 urther on, he writes, “Creative individuals have a great deal of physical energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while pro ecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.”3

The massive shift from “mechanical” to “knowledge“ work has expanded how “creative” is applied to jobs. Creative work always begins with a good idea.

And again, he writes, “Much hard work is necessary to bring a novel idea to completion and to surmount the obstacles a creative person inevitably encounters. Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not.”4 If creativity is about being interesting and important, and linked to living more fully, and forming something new and valuable (drawing from the definitions above), it stands to reason it is important that it be fostered in the obs we have and the physical places we work and learn. Creative work and creative learning we can define even if not thoroughly. Over the centuries, creative work has typically been associated with art, literature, and similar endeavors. While that still holds true today, the massive shift especially in the more advanced economies from “mechanical” work to “knowledge” work has expanded the way “creative” is applied to what people do in their obs.

Above: Work and learning tasks may require individual concentration or collaboration with colleagues.


Above: Creative work is no longer the exclusive purview of the artisan and artist.



KNOWLEDGE WORK Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge work” in 1 3. He predicted that before the end of the twentieth century it would be impossible to maintain the “middle-class” lifestyle most Americans and European workers had been living by continuing to work with one s hands (in, for instance, manufacturing obs). The new work would require using our brains more than ever to solve problems as part of our obs. And to do that would require having far more knowledge related to the work than a traditional industrial worker was ever thought to need. If art and literature involve creation, and a ob using one s hands by, say, helping build an automobile on an assembly line is mostly about following a mechanistic process, is it not the case that knowledge work that involves “thinking for a living” is closer to the former than the latter Is the work of an engineer, scientist, software developer, or physician closer to that of a factory worker or an artist

Preceding page: The locus of much work is shifting from the hands to the head.

Those questions only begin to touch on what knowledge work is really all about. Like creativity, it is sub ect to many definitions, and as we also suggested for creativity, one might say “I know it when I see it.” Still, we can dig a little deeper into knowledge work to get a fuller sense of its meaning and, ultimately, its implications. irst, knowledge work has emerged because of a tremendous economic shift over what are now several decades, particularly in the advanced countries, away from old-line manufacturing and towards obs that are more service-oriented and driven by information and communication technologies.

The automation of mundane work activities unleashes tremendous opportunity for focusing workers creatively.




In 2011, Marc Andreessen—one of the pioneers of the web browser, a prominent technology venture capitalist, and noted futurist—wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software Is Eating the World.”5 It has since been among the most widely quoted articles about technology ever. Andreessen’s view helps explain why knowledge work has become the center of the working world for most of the leading economies. “We are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”

Among software companies, there are the “usual suspects”—Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and so on—but by extension, Andreessen’s argument is that companies we don’t even think of as software companies are, in fact, just that. And what is a software company if not engaged in knowledge work and full of knowledge workers. To the list we can add Ama on, Netflix, LinkedIn, and many others. But we could also add an old-line manufacturing firm such as Pratt Whitney, which still builds and maintains aircraft engines, but engines that today transmit knowledge in the form of information to the airlines that use them in their planes. Pratt Whitney has been doing that for more than a decade; since then, nearly every company has found it has to be a “software company,” and hence a knowledge company. The difference between churning out another aircraft engine on an assembly line and developing an engine that can help an airline do its job better is creativity. Again, we are not defining creativity as any one thing, but pointing to its centrality in the knowledge economy.

A Mercedes-Benz prototype of a self-driving car.

Making it possible to work creatively and generate knowledge is one of the biggest challenges companies face.




A simple algorithm.


Creative knowledge work is flourishing. As algorithms and robots replace jobs once done by humans, companies look for ways to leverage the human brain to work on things the robots cannot do—like being creative in finding solutions to problems and in developing “innovations” (more on that later) in the form of new businesses, products, and services. The automation of mundane work activities unleashes tremendous opportunity for focusing workers creatively. If robots can do most of the work to build the cars at an auto manufacturer, it frees up that company’s employees to think and create the next big thing. Maybe that is a self-driving car, but maybe it is the flying cars those of us old enough to remember were promised by the science fiction of the 1 60s and 1 0s. Or maybe it is some way of transporting that we cannot even imagine.


obots at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

Making it possible to work creatively and generate knowledge is one of the biggest challenges companies face. It calls for training and retraining. It demands new skills, not of the hands but of the mind. It has spurred rethinking about how work is organi ed and how it is valued. Other factors linked to the change in work are also impelling companies to change. Millennials view employment differently from previous generations, and what they value in their obs and workplaces have significant ramifications. On top of that, more and more people work on contract rather than in what used to be obs for life. Workers come and go, umping not only from ob to ob but also sometimes from workplace to workplace within a particular ob. All this has obvious implications for learning, too, as we discuss in later chapters.

Companies around the world are anxious to find the “secret� to how they can support creativity among their workers and succeed in knowledge work. Researchers offer some insights. or instance, Theresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School who has been studying creativity in the workplace for more than thirty years, points to several aspects of the work environment that stimulate creativity: organi ational support for new ideas; positive challenges for employees; autonomy in how day-to-day work gets done, along with a sense of ownership and control; resources, including information and materials; and positive challenges with respect to workloads. She also notes all sorts of organi ational impediments to creativity as well as obstacles from workload pressures.6



THE QUESTION OF PHYSICAL SPACE Whether anyone can settle on a single definition of knowledge work or even creativity, there is no denying the significant implications of the shift Peter Drucker correctly predicted. Among these, the question of what kind of physical space is best for creative knowledge work has been posed. The answers so far are quite varied not as far-flung as the architectural differences of the built world, but certainly not conclusive. Experimentation is rampant as those designing spaces for creative knowledge work try to find the optimal solutions.

“Gatherers” and “”Navigators,” spend half or more of their time away from the office.

To help figure out the direction designers ought to take, two scholars at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at London s Royal College of Art, Catherine Greene and Jeremy Myerson, explored “types” of knowledge workers and developed a categori ation scheme based on worker mobility and motivation.7 They began with

This, in part, explains why the physical workspace has been changing so dramatically. Two disciplines have been largely responsible for workspaces that began to evolve after World War II and have since become, in essence, completely different from anything in the entire period after the Industrial Revolution. One is human factors and ergonomics (H E) the “scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, and methods to design in order to optimi e human wellbeing and overall system performance.”8

the premise that genuine knowledge work has a creative component and that creativity is supported in the most effective knowledge-worker offices. They identified four different types of knowledge workers. “Anchors” generally work at their desks at an office, play a key role in transferring knowledge within an organi ation, prefer clearly delineated schedules, and require specified concentration time. “Connectors” roam around about half the time they are at their workplaces; they depend “on interaction with people from different departments and across different sections” of a company and, “in their constant exchanges with people from around the company, often have a particular need to work more freely and visually than their surroundings currently allow.” Two other types, Preceding page, clockwise from upper left: Knowledge workers in the “anchor,” “connector,” navigator,” and “gatherer” roles.

To make our point here, it is not necessary to go into tremendous detail. Rather, we can simply repeat the conclusion of the study s authors in the context of the different “needs” of these types of creative knowledge workers: “ W e are faced with a very complex set of requirements. If we take these as our premise for the design brief, we must go beyond the traditional remit of office design.”

or a long time, designers employed H E primarily to meet health and safety ob ectives and enhance productivity as measured, traditionally, by output. It involved making the interfaces between people and equipment safer and easier to use. It spurred the design of sometimes strange-looking office furniture aimed at preventing musculoskeletal disorders such as repetitive strain in uries. That was largely the extent of how “wellbeing” in the workplace was viewed.




The old approach to H E, however, was largely reactive. or instance, if a particular chair design were deemed to be the possible cause of back pain, a new design would emerge. If how a lever functioned on a production machine took a physical toll on workers and reduced their output, the lever or perhaps the entire machine would be reconfigured. No wonder “comfort design” and “functional design” have long been considered synonyms for H E. What Catherine Greene and Jeremy Myerson found, and what researchers have come to understand generally, is that there is a proactive side to human factors and ergonomics. Creative knowledge work may be stymied by an uncomfortable chair, but replacing that chair with something more “ergonomic” does not necessarily translate into making an environment that actually fosters creativity, or at least supports letting the “creative uices” flow, by making the people in that environment feel good or feel however they need to feel to work creatively. So, an expanded view of the “wellbeing” part of the H E definition began to make its way to the forefront of workplace design. The second discipline is environmental psychology, formally founded about a half-century ago. Environmental psychologists have been exploring how experiences in the physical world, with places and ob ects, influence human thoughts and behaviors compared to the ergonomists and their primary concern with efficiency in performance. When it comes to workplace design, the two disciplines can sometimes seem difficult to tell apart, but their foundations and approaches speak volumes. Ergonomics is typically taught in university engineering departments, whereas environmental psychology is interdisciplinary. Typically considered part of the social sciences, the discipline draws on psychology, of course, but also anthropology, sociology, and even though to a far lesser degree economics.

A famous chair by Donald Judd.

While it is a relatively new area of psychology, it has come to the forefront as part of a broader movement that includes making wellbeing central to the design of physical space. Like ergonomics professionals, many environmental psychologists are committed to seeing research applied in practice to enhance wellbeing. With the two disciplines focusing attention on wellbeing, the term has entered the design and space management parlance to describe the aspirational outcome of people-centered design. It is a shorthand way of describing the physical, functional, and psychological comfort designers seek to achieve in the workspaces they create for creative knowledge workers. As Jacqueline Vischer explains, Physical comfort refers to basic human needs such as safety, hygiene and accessibility, which must be assured usually through applying existing building codes and standards so that users find their environment habitable. unctional comfort … refers to the degree to which their environment supports users’ tasks. At a more abstract level but e ually important to users at work is psychological comfort, including feelings of belonging, ownership and control over the workspace …9

CHAPTER 1 Model of Satisfaction and Wellbeing (Jacqueline Vischer) THRESHOLD VIRTUAL WORK



Design s leading theorists. They have even developed a framework for Positive Design that they argue “promotes human flourishing.”12 Their ideas and those of a few other theorists are perhaps the most advanced. ew designers go as far as they recommend. But what is most important here is that the underlying idea of making workspaces (and learning spaces) in which we are happier and thus more creative has caught on, and has even become an imperative for companies designing new workspaces or altering existing spaces. While many pro ects stop at providing basic functional support for work and a variety of spaces people can use for different kinds of tasks, the trend is growing; after all, what business does not want to foster creativity among its workers Some of the examples we show in later chapters are at the leading edge of experimentation with how space can be designed to meet that ob ective.

Positive Design Framework (Desmet and Pohlmeyer) DESIGN FOR VIRTUE BEING A MORALLY GOOD PERSON




















It is the same notion of wellbeing that is the impetus behind what is called the Positive Design movement, which in turn builds on the Positive Psychology movement. In Positive Psychology, the focus is on increasing human wellbeing by optimi ing desirable experiences; contrast this with traditional psychology, in which eliminating negative experiences is the focus, even if the ob ective is the same. Positive Design, which is particularly strong in Europe but gaining worldwide attention, takes the psychological research that links being in a positive mood, or being happy, with thinking more broadly. The basic idea is that when we think more broadly, we get along better with others, our immune systems work better (so we are healthier, and thus our wellbeing increases), and especially important for knowledge work we are more creative. Pieter Desmet and Anna Pohlmeyer are two of Positive




Balancing environmental demands with the skills and abilities of users to act on their environment is a way of defining optimal workspace for creativity and flow … A workspace cannot be designed to be a one-time, final, and permanent ergonomic support for all office tasks, but rather needs to be adaptable and “negotiable” to be most supportive to users. Users need the skills and opportunities to engage with and adjust their environment successfully, over time and with changing task re uirements, in order to optimize comfort and manage workspace stress successfully.11



That “abstract level” is what compels the deliberate design of workspaces for creative knowledge work so important in the knowledge economy. Vischer references the work of Mihaly C iks entmihalyi (whose definition of creativity we introduced earlier) on creativity and flow, the latter a state of concentration or complete absorption with a given activity and situation and in which people are happiest.10 She writes,





THE RELENTLESS DRIVE FOR “INNOVATION” AND INNOVATION SPACE In the same business world in which companies are seeking ways to spark creativity among their workers, there is a relentless drive for “innovation” a word with as many meanings as “creativity.” It serves no purpose here to figure out decisively what is or is not an “innovation” or to tease apart the common conflation of the term with “creativity” and “entrepreneurship.” Rather, what matters to us is the use of so-called “innovation spaces” designed with the belief that the right kind of space can make creative work happen. Many companies have umped on a kind of design bandwagon that has seen the emergence of so-called “Innovation Labs” around the world, particularly in Europe. Often, they are cookie-cutter versions of what some people believe are the main elements required for a space that supports creative knowledge workers (elements we detail in chapter 3). Preceding page and below: Bene “Idea Lab”

Consider the “Idea Lab” by the Austria-based furniture maker Bene. It is popping up throughout Europe and has come to New ork City. In essence, it is an ideali ed space the firm argues will help develop a company s innovation engine because, as the company says in its presentations: “Innovation requires two things: creative minds and inspiring spaces.” This is meant to be the inspiring space. The issue is that no “pre-fab” space can absolutely guarantee that any creative thinking or innovation will happen. To put it another way, there has been extensive research that hospital rooms should be designed to promote healing, psychological wellbeing, and efficient provision of care, and yet the most “perfect” hospital room cannot guarantee that a patient will not die.


Space for creative thinking  
Space for creative thinking