Finding Creative Spaces That Work for You
My workplace experiment explores how creative spaces can activate your inner creator.
You have to get a new creative project rolling and you’re wondering whether you should stay at home, hop to a coffee shop, or check out a co-working space.
When I lived in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Madrid or London, I made it my mission to explore new creative spaces almost weekly. I figured that my brain, just like any other muscle, had to be exercised for it to work to its highest potential.
In my second month at adidas, I’m challenging myself to train that muscle by finding the most creative spaces to work.
Can the 54-hectare campus in the idyllic surroundings of Southern Germany compete with the hustle and bustle of the big cities?
1. Sourcing inspiration in the ‘MakerLab’
Creativity means making things, exploring new ideas and looking at challenges from different angles. Nothing embodies this better than our makers. So the first creative space that I set myself to work in was the adidas MakerLab.
Monday morning 9am, I’m greeted with wide arms and a “come, come, come” to a space full of colours, materials, mannequins, sewing machines, 3D printers and more.
It doesn’t take long until the first creators come in and start tossing around patterns and sketches while whistling along to tunes on the speakers or in their heads.
Sitting rather quietly, writing out content drafts, I’m coming up with different concepts to those I had envisioned. I guess inspiring creative spaces help you think differently.
We often think that only artists can be creative, but the reality is that they simply know (and use) the right techniques. When you use different parts of your brain at once, it trains your creative muscle.
We all can adapt this technique, by activating physical sensations (touching), hand-eye coordination (such as handcrafting) or inspirational senses (listening to audio or watching a video).
Creativity is not about making things perfect; it’s about trying new things and challenging your brain to solve problems.
What this space gave me was an understanding that everyone is a creator. You just have to get into an environment that is open-minded, adaptive and that welcomes all forms of creativity.
2. Finding peace in nature
“Nature can help you get inspired, overcome creative blocks, increase your brain function and improve your mental health.”Sina Port
Creatives come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. I grew up in the countryside, so my inspiring creative space was often found in nature.
As someone who works a lot with her laptop, it can get frustrating to look at a screen when you’re trying to find inspiration. To change up environments, I took my laptop with me outside.
Nature can help you get inspired, overcome creative blocks, increase your brain function and improve your mental health. It’s definitely a challenge to find spaces to work outdoors, as the power of nature comes in many forms – a blazing sun, a cool breeze or the friendly insects visiting your workspace. But what was a real liberation for me was being able to choose freely.
I moved around the campus to different spaces – some in the shade, some in the sunlight, and some just to walk and be astonished by.
Like my colleague said:
“Honestly, nothing beats a stroll over the spring-infused campus to take a breath and re-energize my brain before having to tackle a creative task at my desk. Yesterday, I watched the ducklings dabbling in the water and mama-duck breeding to more eggs. It’s definitely the best natural distraction from daily work stress.” – Hannah Hlavacek
This is backed up by studies at Stanford University, who found out that we’re 60% more creative when we walk outside. Consider the ability to move around when choosing a creative space.
What this space gave me was a calm mind, as nature brings peace into your packed-up consciousness. Inspiring creative spaces help you free your mind.
Expose your eyes to diverse types of nature to just think. Without pressuring your thoughts to find solutions, simply let them float around.
3. Challenging the home office
To take advantage of our ‘Off-Campus’ flexible working policy, I’m challenging my home office to its creative potential.
Trying out different tips from creators on how to DIY your ideal creative space, here are my favourites:
- Morning routines activate your inner creator.
Especially those which don’t include electronics. So I stayed offline in exchange for drinking tea, eating dates and reading a book.
- Minimalism sparks creativity.
Why? Because creativity takes energy, and to save as much energy for the creative flow as possible, you need a space which doesn’t distract you. That’s why I tidied out my home office to create an environment that is clean and simple.
To really get my ideas flowing, I tried a new yoga routine which got me out of my comfort zone and helped me to energize for the day.
You might be thinking ‘what do these things have remotely to do with creative work?’
We often think creatives are buzzing around, always on the go. But the truth is, reading, hydrating, exercising and clearing up your space before you get to work not only gives you a fresh start, it relaxes both your body and mind to spark creative ideas for the day.
What this space showed me was that inspiring creative spaces are unique to everyone.
As exercising especially was a powerful tool for me, I decided to take it to another level.
4. Finding freedom by working out
“Exercise improves mood and sleep and reduces stress and anxiety. It’s a creativity booster. ”Sina Port
When you feel pressured, fearful or restless, your creativity usually goes down the drain.
As exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety, it seemed like the perfect fix to boost my creativity.
My mission for the day was to work out on and off the campus as much as possible. This included the enormous stadium, the beautiful fields around the area and of course the adidas gym.
Physical activity makes us happier and energetic and is, therefore, a great source of creativity. So, I went out to sweat my muscles and my brain cells.
Later, my colleague Shaba picked me up for a run through the woods. Not only did this push my heart rate up, but our conversation incited a new project.
Let’s see what else collaboration can bring.
5. Sparking innovation through collaboration
“Collaborative workplaces fuel creativity, bringing together a combination of different influences. ”Sina Port
Collaborative workplaces fuel creativity by bringing together completely diverse influences. So I thought I could produce a creative breakthrough by joining forces with others.
I took the chance to brainstorm, meet, interview and create with others in the many meeting spaces here on campus.
Starting with a team meeting on the newest creative concepts, I then jumped my way to our new office building ‘Arena’ with my colleague Matt to toss around ideas on our new podcast concept for content on the go. Afterward, I recorded interviews with several colleagues to pick their brains on the future of work and how everyone can integrate creativity, collaboration, and confidence in their workplace.
All in all, I used an incredible variety of creative spaces from meeting rooms to brainstorming outdoors to make the most of the diverse team areas available.
This experience convinced me that for inspiring creative spaces, collaborative areas are a must. Collaboration promotes healthy competition, keeps egos in check, and helps to focus on a shared goal. It empowers creative collisions.
What did I learn from my adidas campus experiment? It doesn’t matter whether you are in a big city or the countryside. What’s essential is:
Inspiring creative spaces give you freedom. They let you explore, they’re unique to each of us, they challenge you and they foster collaboration.
You are right, it is about finding the balance that fits your personality. It's a challenge especially when you like to move around, but it is definitely worth exploring!
I love your article. I usually have the best ideas during a run.
And I also like to change working spaces during the day. It always gives me new energy.
Thank you! That's the beauty of choice, to find the best spaces that work for you individually at certain times a day. We often forget that we are not the same person, with the same energy, mood, and needs throughout the entire day. A really great perspective! Thanks, Lisa
Brooklyn, NYC: https://www.instagram.com/p/BJyEH6ghZhs/
Thank you that's so nice to hear! Freedom is really one of the important aspects we often forget (both in choice and in movement).
Julia, this place is beautiful! It even has nature built into the environment! I definitely see what inspires you about the place! It's lovely and I'd love to visit it sometime. Thank you for sharing!
I love your article. I usually have the best ideas when I am in nature.
We have such a big and beautiful campus at the WOS . I just wish there were benches, tables and chairs outside, maybe even under trees for working/meeting. Specially when it gets very hot in laces during summer time, it would be a great idea and people could change working spaces during the day and have more energy and a fresh mind.
Great article summarizing ways to stay creative!
Appreciate you taking the time to write that.
Love your feedback. Truly enjoyed writing about creativity.
What's your favorite creative space?
You are right, it's a true relief for re-setting your mind!