The Ideal Creative Workspace

Jonah Lehr­er sug­gests that the ideal cre­at­ive work­place is “a room with blue walls that feels very far away and is filled with ref­er­ences to for­eign coun­tries”. Why would these three con­di­tions be con­du­cive to cre­ativ­ity?

Col­ours can influ­ence how we think (in one exper­i­ment, red back­grounds were found to make par­ti­cipants more accur­ate, while blue back­grounds drew out cre­ativ­ity).

The link­age of red and accur­acy makes some intu­it­ive sense, since people tend to asso­ci­ate red (stop signs, the col­or of blood, etc.) with danger and cau­tion. But why would blue make us more cre­at­ive? […] It turns out moments of cre­at­ive insight are best achieved when people are in a relaxed, peace­ful state of mind.

Psy­cho­lo­gic­al dis­tance (think­ing some­thing is fur­ther away) makes us more likely to solve dif­fi­cult prob­lems cre­at­ively.

Accord­ing to [con­stru­al level the­ory (CLT)], psy­cho­lo­gic­al dis­tance affects the way we men­tally rep­res­ent things, so that dis­tant things are rep­res­en­ted in a rel­at­ively abstract way while psy­cho­lo­gic­ally near things seem more con­crete. […] Abstract think­ing makes it easi­er for people to form sur­pris­ing con­nec­tions between seem­ingly unre­lated con­cepts.

Liv­ing abroad increases cre­ativ­ity (pre­vi­ously).

First, liv­ing abroad can allow indi­vidu­als access to a great­er num­ber of nov­el ideas and con­cepts, which can then act as inputs for the cre­at­ive pro­cess. Second, liv­ing abroad may allow people to approach prob­lems from dif­fer­ent per­spect­ives. […] Third, exper­i­ences in for­eign cul­tures can increase the psy­cho­lo­gic­al read­i­ness to accept and recruit ideas from unfa­mil­i­ar sources, thus facil­it­at­ing the pro­cesses of uncon­scious idea recom­bin­a­tion.

2 thoughts on “The Ideal Creative Workspace

  1. boyhowdy

    Inter­est­ingly, I just returned from an elev­en-day stint in a field, where we helped host a major folk fest­iv­al. I am always at my most cre­at­ive there, and no won­der, as it fits the three cri­ter­ia per­fectly: remote, more blue sky than usu­al, and formed of a hodge­podge of people from vary­ing com­munit­ies and value sys­tems.

    It would be psy­cho­lo­gic­ally per­fect if per­haps the ideal work­place is actu­ally not the room, but the pub­lic, open com­mon­space or town square.

  2. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    I like this idea, and fully expect this to be the case.

    I had­n’t con­sidered it, how­ever.

    Is this why the banks of the Seine abound with artists who could much easi­er take a photo of the vista home and paint in the com­fort of their own home? I expect so.

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