As readers of this blog know I spend a lot of time thinking about how creativity works, how daydreams function, and how one can best get in the creative groove. I have found that the very simple art of spacing-out, when you really look at it leads to all kinds of interesting rabbit holes.
Recently I have been thinking about how space affects creativity. Basically I mean the room where you do your thing. The writer’s desk, the painter’s studio, the potter’s wheel, that sort of thing. I am lucky enough to have a space where I can work, here is a pic:
Nothing fancy, right? A desk, some pics on the wall, and a window to stare out of to the right. This is where I write. I’m not complaining. But is there some way this space could be improved? In the same way that a bike, which functions just fine can be tightened, balanced, greased, and tuned-up to function better than ever? I decided to look into it, and to my surprise there really is not much research or knowledge done in this area!
Here is what you will find if you try to google stuff like how decor/architecture affects focus, and creativity.
1. Spending time in nature relaxes people. (Which it seems scientists have just “discovered” recently with a study. As usual this is common knowledge that mystics and poets have been saying for years and the scientists are a bit late to the party on this one.)
2. Color affects mood. The info on colors is pretty basic, and it is the sort of thing where every article you find on the internet mostly recycles the same bit of info. And it is really the information about colors that 8 year olds can intuit by looking at a box of crayons.
Red is energizing.
Blue is calming. And helps with concentration.
Black is austere, and kind of classy.
Green is refreshing, and so on.
I can’t say that any particular color seems best suited to creativity. Some might say what about blue? But i think that creativity and mental focus are actually two different things.
So, I mean that’s not a lot of information right? (There is also Feng Shui which I haven’t looked into very much, because half the advice in Feng Shui seems to be like “your front door should face north” which is not something you have a lot of control over after the fact.)
I mean, everybody knows that the place where you work can drastically effect your mood and concentration, and productivity, right? SO why is this such an unexplored area?
I don’t have the answer to that. It would seem this is simply an area of mind-place interaction that is ripe to be further explored. I will leave you with a few places you can explore creating your own ideal creative space. After all it is going to be different for everyone, one person needs order to create, another chaos, another a view of nature, another person needs absolute quiet, another the hustle and bustle of a cafe and so on.
1. Since I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, I sort of fetishize the objects that I use at my desk. Fancy pencils and pencil sharpeners. Silly, I know, but it seems to work. This place has lots of fancy pencils and the like. I bike downtown to buy the Blackwing pencils that I am addicted to there, because they sell singles.
I had to give up espresso to afford my fancy-pants pencil additction.
2. Here is a list of a bunch of famous people’s workspace. Jane Austen wins the zen-like austerity prize here, jeez.
3. Warning this next link will make you jealous. But it is pictures of people that seem to spend all of their time making sure they are surrounded by very nice looking spaces. But it can also be inspiring, in the same way that looking at photographs of recipes that are so fancy you probably won’t ever actually try them is.
Like . . . this guy is a “Lifestyler”. That’s his job.
4. Finally, there is this cool book/theory by architect Christopher Alexander, called pattern language that goes into all this in detail. It’s fascinating. The basic idea is to live in a place, and with objects that live. That breathe. That are beautiful . . . and basically this amounts to choosing handmade stuff whenever possible instead of mass-produced stuff.