This blog post is from our newest team member Mobina. Mobina is our first non-Estonian team member and super valuable part of the Silicon Valley team. She has studied human-computer interaction design in London where she wrote her phD thesis about How Environment Supports Creativity. Why do we need to cover blank gray walls with art? Here’s why.
An environment affects how people think, feel, work and interact. Many successful designers highlight the importance of their environments to their creative work. For instance, Paul Smith described his studio as such: “Why this room is just full of toys, beautiful books, strange objects, good fun things, [from which] you can get great inspiration? My whole life is about being childlike… which means that you have a lateral mind? And you’re very curious… Life is about living young, being youthful and enjoying yourself every day.” (Yoo, 2013) These experience-based claims by designers show the importance of environment to inspire creative ideas. However, there has been little research to understand the effect of environment on creative activities, especially by considering the impact of environment on emotions and creative activities. Because the past research revealed particular emotions such as happiness and interest could improve creativity, people’s emotions can directly influence by the environment and consequently it can expand creative thinking.
From a psychological point of view, an environment can change people’s emotions. People can experience different emotions in different environments. For example, if we imagine ourselves in an entertainment park, museum, theatre or hospital, we might feel different types of emotions. Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that helps us to understand this relationship better. Kopec (2012) reports environmental psychology research about how a room affects people’s behaviour, emotions and well- being by reducing people’s stress and increasing their satisfaction. However, there is still a lack of applicable guidelines for designing specific spaces to provide different emotional changes. For example, several researches revealed that positive emotions have an impact to improve creativity (Baas et. al, 2011). So the environment can be designed to stimulate more positive emotions, such as happiness, by applying vivid colours, artistic painting and sculptures in the space, and as a result facilitating creative thinking.
Spirit of the space (Genius loci)
Each environment has the potential to cause specific emotions in people. In architecture, this is called the “genius loci” a Roman expression that refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere, or a “spirit of place” that is related to some particular emotions (Graves & Poraj, 2009). Furthermore, more widely, the form and function of a space can reflect the culture, behaviours and priorities of the people within it (Doorley & Witthoft, 2012).
These two images of 2 workspace can show different “genius loci” the spirit of the space which causes specific emotions. Adobe office by implementing visual stimuli in the environment including colours, lay out and objects in the space, create a welcoming, inspiring, motivating space that relates to happiness, interest, creativity and more positive emotions. In comparison the cubic office create boredom and anxiety that is opposite of creativity and productivity.
The conditions of people in workspaces can impact their health and well- being because they spend much of their waking time in those workspaces (Approximately 33% on a weekly basis) (Veitch, 2011). Existing knowledge in both workspace design and mental health proposes that workspace design influences mental health via the effect of light exposure, social behaviour, access to nature, privacy regulation and stimulus control (Veitch, 2011). As a consequence, a suitable workspace can improve job satisfaction, environmental satisfaction and job performance (Sundstrom et al. 1996).
According to a “Creativity in the workplace” report, creativity is now considered as a key factor of everyone’s job (Martin, 2010). In the report, creativity is strongly associated with motivation and satisfaction, and as a result can have a positive impact on productivity and robustness. Other research into work environments has revealed that 40% of office workers felt most productive at work on their own desk (Cooper, 2011). There is a need to investigate the workspace in terms of diverse needs of workers to enhance both their productivity and their creativity. A creative capacity could be affected by how people interact with their physical surrounding (Morel research, 2008). Physical settings are very important in the workspaces in each organisation (Moultrie et al. 2007).
Successful organisations care about their workspaces
Physical settings are very important in the workspaces in each organisation (Moultrie et al., 2007). People need the space that motivates and triggers creativity. However, poorly designed workspaces such as cubicles limited spaces, desks in open areas, that cause interruptions and distractions, and poor lighting can all inhibit creativity. Such poor working conditions reduce productivity (Beach, 2015). However, good news is that technology companies reliant on eﬀective design processes and problem solving in their projects now understand the vital role of workspace in worker’s wellbeing, productivity and creativity, and the importance of workspace has been demonstrated by better workspace designs in most successful organisations such as Google, Facebook, Apple and IDEO (Kahl, 2011).
Healthier people; Better society
Environment matters! Lack of visual stimuli can cause boredom and that increase the stress level based on scientific studies. Stress can cause problems in our health, productivity and work quality. Investing on creating a better environment for people to make them feel better and more positive can impact the final outcome of productivity and creativity in long-term for organisations.
Every person needs some sort of inspiration and motivation. Creating visual stimuli can activate a part of brain that is linked with positive emotions and higher level of creativity. In current buildings and working spaces there is a significant need for art and visual pleasure to engage our minds. Inspired mind can solve the problems in more creative ways. At the end, healthier spaces with more arts and visual pleasure can cause healthier people and better society.