A Design Space should be a space, physical, mental, virtual that reflects a creative climate where innovation teams act together to expand the range of opportunities and to nurture great ideas. These creative Design Spaces will become the incubators for the creative advantages that will enable Britain and other industrialised companies to keep ahead of the pack of lower cost producers and service providers. The concerns about bottom-line costs has driven out the "luxury" of so-called unproductive space; even meeting rooms have migrated to local hotels and conference suites who are engaged in the efficiency game and so want people out on time as there is a meeting following shortly. It is amazing how creative people can be in such circumstances but it is also true that sustained widespread creativity is unusual in such environments- it is one thing coming up with a creative solution to an issue or problem, but to discover insights, play with them, and create substantial new products and services requires more than efficiency, it requires effective actions which to a productivity expert look positively wasteful! As for radical solutions, forget it!
There is something about messiness that enhances creativity, the ability to have a notion, pick something up and play with it transforming it into an idea made tangible so that it can be shared with someone else, enhanced into the form of a concept and eventually into a new offer. So what do we need... a space to uplift the spirit, to hold stuff, to play, to share.. not your average office!
[Picture of IDEO office environment taken by jurvetson.
Used with thanks under CC.]
The capability of creative improvisational play is a devastatingly competitive advantage that is culturally informed and therefore cannot be inserted into an organisation's culture overnight. But it is well worth starting the journey that leads to the building of a creative environment, physically and virtually.
picture uploaded by Scootie. Used with thanks under CC.
I always fancied this physical space as it is in a seemingly remote area yet is half a mile from a great deal of industry... much declining,; so one can be remote space but close enough to the world to attract people prepared to make the journey. The building owners never got it though!
The virtual space is constructed by connecting together people and places, displaced in space and time, so that dialogue around visual, tactile material can take place without everyone needing to be in the same place. This means going beyond the conventional view of videoconferencing to technology that enables a multipoint awareness and communication portal for connecting remote social spaces, such as iCom, the application created at MIT's MediaLab in the Object Based Media Group.
Why link spaces in a visual (and audio) sense? Because of what I call the phenomena of "noises off". When working together in a creative space it is often that one hears a snatch of a nearby conversation and thinking 'I can add value to that,' wander across and join in. One day I popped out of my office to have a word with one of the designers, but he was chatting on the phone. I returned to my office and the phone rang. It was a design manager from an external agency. "Hello," he said " I saw you were in so I thought I would give you a call."
"Oh!" Said I, "I did not realise you were up here in the lab."
"I'm not," he replied "I'm in the office in London but I saw you nip into the office on the video camera... your designer and mine are on a video-call, I'm keeping an eye on things and I saw you walk past in the background, so I grabbed the phone!"
So we had gone beyond the conventional video-conference that connects faces to an application that connects spaces too! and it turned out to be a very important part of the design technology mix.
with dynamic information included. see a video of iCom here.
The building should be designed to contain all the technologies and physical spaces necessary for the support and nurture of a project team whilst they are "on-site" and also whilst dispersed geographically.
If as Rich Gold put it "Design is the most successful social science ever created." then the best tools are those that facilitate and enhance the interactions between the team people. It is not unreasonable to think of the building itself as a meta technology, a Design Space that facilitates and underpins the efforts of the design team.
So the two technologies described here are part of our Design Technology thrust:
5. Collaborative Infrastructure.
We will no doubt return to discuss the topic again!