Where Science Meets Muse

Optimizing Your Environment for Creativity

Posted by Plish on February 23, 2009

Courtesy of creativeenvironments.biz

Courtesy of creativeenvironments.biz

Researchers have found that the color blue does a better job of bringing out the creativity in people while red drives accuracy.

Interesting study.  I would guess that while there may be cultural component to this (in China, Red is good luck and success), I think there might be some universal aspect in that blue is the natural appearance of the sky and of water. Blue sky is also related to country environments, and perhaps this is also related to the ability to be able to relax.  In other words, blue has alot going for it.

The bigger picture here (colored blue of course) is that our surroundings can and do influence our work and our play. 

Think of how stepping into a room with cathedral ceilings inspires an open spirit and how low ceilings feel limiting.

Think of how natural lighting seems so pleasing and conducive to work while fluorescent lighting seems sterile and cold.

Research in schools show that natural lighting increased productivity, reduced health problems, and didn’t negatively effect stress hormones.

Then there’s the Feng Shui school of thought-that room design be optimized for energy flow.  Regardless of one’s philosophical beliefs in Feng Shui, rooms and spaces organized according to it have a nice harmony to them-they’re pleasing to the senses.  That can only be a good thing.

Then there’s this fascinating work by an artist seeking to beautify  a New York subway tunnel. The entire paper talks about the interplay of  light and environment in public places.

Last but not least, it seems crime decreases in those neighborhoods that are kept clean and orderly as opposed to dishevelled.

The impact of environment is huge when it comes to creative endeavors.

So when you’re frustrated, feeling ill at ease, not feeling creative,  there may be some elements of your environment that are not encouraging to your endeavors.

Use the list below to do an environmental check next time you’re stuck and find a way to immerse yourself in the optimum environment.  

Color -Seek out blue environments, or at least brightly colored environments

Light – Seek out natural lighting, the light of day

Boundaries – Seek out open spaces and higher ceilings

Smell – Seek out those areas that have neutral or positive smells; pleasing without inducing hunger or displeasure

Temperature – If too hot or too cold, seek the moderate, temperate areas

Sound – Seek out music that inspires and elevates; natural environments and sounds.

Peace/Harmony/Beauty – Seek out areas that represent peace, external and internal peace, quietude, orderliness, flowing

What would you add to this list?

What makes your optimum creative environment?


4 Responses to “Optimizing Your Environment for Creativity”

  1. Personally I find if an environment is not cluttered; if there are clear spaces and empty walls and the room is tidy, it encourages your internal environment to follow suit. That results in better, clearer thinking, improved awareness and improved creativity.

    If you try the principles of a clear environment, it can be applied to a single room – and it doesn’t necessarily need to cost you a fortune….the decoration can be as simple as draping sheets to cover a cluttered or messy area until you have time to tidy up or using dividing walls or screens.

    As mentioned you can’t beat natural light. I would add seeing the sky and listening to birdsong….nature and fresh air are wonderful; refreshing, revitalising and soothing. Weather permitting, fresh air transforms a room – you mentioned Feng Shui and whatever the weather it is a good and healthy idea to allow new air in for 20 minutes or so.

    For me, I would choose light colours, white and other light colours seem to be more restful.

  2. Plish said

    Paul, Thanks for the comments and the great tips!

    I appreciate your use of “light” colours-I agree-I think lights are better than brights.

  3. […] little over a year ago I blogged on optimizing your environment for creative output.  I also wrote about the pros and cons of open office […]

  4. […] Optimising Your Environment for Creativity (zenstorming.wordpress.com) […]

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