Design Room, design

19 Dec 2006 - 1:48pm
9 years ago
1 reply
818 reads
Rob Nero

Our team has their own meeting room that we use as "design room" and
"project meeting room" and overall playground for whiteboard drawing and
library of resources. We are in the process of renovating and
redecorating the room to better suit our needs, and I'd like feedback
from others on the list about their "design rooms."

What unique items to keep in your room to promote problem solving and
What is the layout of your room?
What is unique about your room?
Any thoughts positive or negative about a properly designed/configured
"design room?"

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19 Dec 2006 - 8:48pm

Hi Robert,

Here are some recommendations based on some of the spaces I've been
privy to, and from building such a thing last year. As a side note,
have you considered having a pro come in and design the space for
you? Perhaps calling a Knoll (or similar) rep? Let me know if you
need assistance and I'll put you in touch with some people. This
might be more productive, especially in terms of dealing with your
floor plan. It need not be expensive to consult someone.

> What unique items to keep in your room to promote problem solving and
> creativity?


* People need space to express their ideas - one whiteboard is not
nearly enough. Lots of colors, lots of whiteboard space is always key.

* Pads of paper and drawing implements are always a great thing to
stock heavily. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me
for paper from my sketch pads...

* Water. Personally, I like those big replacement tank/dispensers,
since I usually bring my own water bottle to conserve recycling.
Brains need water .

* Good air flow and light. People need fresh air and natural quality
light (not fluorescent) to be healthy and productive. You can put the
most amazing devices into the room to generate creativity, but miss
these simple things, and it's a wash.

* It's a really good idea to head down to your local electronics
superstore and buy all of the proper adapters for whatever projector
you use. Literally chain them to the unit so they can't be removed,
so they are always available when needed!

* A digital camera, or perhaps a few. When drawings are complete, I
always keep pictures of the work for later. There are fancy
whiteboards that record this information, but I've found them to be
less than reliable - a good old digital camera does the trick.

* Breath mints, always and easily available... No need to say more,
we've all been there.

Random other ideas:

* When people sit, they sleep. The best environment I've worked in
was one where the tables were more like bar height, and people could
stand to keep circulation flowing or sit more upright. There is
nothing more numbing than a room full of seated, inactive and
unapproachable people. To keep things creative, keep people upright...

* To the above point, most creative sessions are waaay too long.
Keeping people standing keeps things moving, but it's also not a bad
idea to have a large stop watch somewhere - there are several timers
available that can be attached to the wall to keep people on track.
When I run meetings, I'm always aware of how much floor time people
are getting, and I'm scanning to see if people are starting to glaze
over. I never put people in meeting where they must go on for more
than an hour at a time without a break. That yields diminishing
creative returns.

* A box of flat flexible magnets of different sizes (much like fridge
magnets, but larger and blank). Sheets/rolls of this magnetic
material can be purchased from Tap plastics, and precut. I use it for
buttons - they can be drawn on with white board markers and moved at
will... Whole interfaces have been designed like this!

* Try to change up the decor a bit - the more static and stodgy the
colors and layout, the worse the result. People like plants... It
sounds crazy, but string some christmas lights in a unique way! Put
up some good photography of nature scenes (not that junk they sell to
hotels!) ...

* Periodicals... ID magazine, Metropolis, etc...something with
pictures. Keep these fresh, because people will often refer to them..

* A printer with a USB port and cable so people can plug in and print
right there instead of walking out to do so.

* Rolling tables. A good company can set you up with bar-height
rolling tables, so that the room can be reconfigured at the user's

...I'm sure there are many more, but I have to get back to being
creative now :-) Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you want
to talk to a pro on this. By the way, bravo for asking! Most company
spaces I've seen are ill designed, and are built without any thought
towards human creativity or basic comfort.


Dan Peknik, Industrial/Interaction Design
San Jose State University * NASA Ames

On Dec 19, 2006, at 11:48 AM, <robertnero at>
<robertnero at> wrote:

> What unique items to keep in your room to promote problem solving and
> creativity?
> What is the layout of your room?
> What is unique about your room?
> Any thoughts positive or negative about a properly designed/configured
> "design room?"

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