Sharing new ideas

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Physical Space to Cultivate Innovation

Innovation helps the society advance. New products, especially in medicine and technology, enhance our living standard. Innovation helps differentiate one product from that of the competitor’s and makes a product stand out. From business perspective, it closes gaps between different markets.

Companies recognize this and try to encourage innovation in their own way, usually by creating physical space to nurture new ideas. This can be done by launching innovation labs to evolve thinking into new products, services, process efficiencies or business models.

Normally, an innovation lab is a space set apart from the rest of the company with distinct furnishing, interactive screen and unique floor plan.

If you had considered setting up an innovation lab, or making your office space more suitable to cultivate innovation, here are a few things that you should bear in mind:

1. Back to nature

Most of us know that sunlight; fresh air and natural surrounding make us happy. It is impractical to actually plant trees and flowers in office, but even a view of nature does wonders. You can also have windows overlooking trees to reduce your employees’ mental fatigue. A piece of outdoor, such as miniature plant and basic natural elements such as clean air and natural light also provides mental escape for stress relief.


For example, there are trees, picnic tables and wild design all over Google Tel Aviv’s office; and it has a rooftop deck overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Casa Mediterraneo’s headquarters in Alicante, Spain on the other hand, has a blue, translucent roof that filters incoming sunlight, thus creating a sea of blue shadow in the office; whereas Netherland’s Corporate Campus Apeldorn incorporates interior landscape design into its open office space.

 2. Keep Moving

Apart from keeping us fit and healthy, repetitive action also moves our brain into a light relaxation state known as alpha state, which helps problem solving and lateral thinking.

Mobility can be encouraged by allowing employees to choose where they work instead of making desk and fixed screen the only option. Replacing office chair with gym ball or stand-up desk is also a good recourse as they prevent slouching and alleviate back problems. An even better option will be the usage of treadmill desks.


Another way to encourage movement is to centralize key utilities such as photocopiers and printers. Having open and visible staircase is also an effective alternative.

Rietveld Architecture-Art Affordances takes the idea of exercising at office to new height by collaborating with Barbara Visser, an artist to design a conceptual office with no chairs and desks called “The End of Sitting”. This conceptual office is filled with 3D geometric shapes that range from waist-height to shoulder-height, where employees can stand, lean, perch or lie down.

3. Social Setting

Some Singapore event venues might cultivate innovation better than traditional office environment, as some people realize that it is easier for ideas to flow when they are relaxing in places like bars, parks or cafes.

Visual stimulation of public spaces and interaction with others help some people to be more innovative and collaborate better. New York’s miLES storefront had successfully combined coffee shop with its office atmosphere and Grupo Gallegos in Huntington Beach converted an old cinema into office.

Some employers might think it is too expensive and costly to invest in physical space. Remember that employees spend at least one third of their time in office. If they are required to be more creative and innovative in problem solving, it is simply illogical to expect them to do so in an environment that provides no such support.


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