The study of how one’s environment influences one’s thinking and behaviour is called environmental psychology. The goal of all designers has always been to improve this relationship by creating more positive and user-centric spaces that users can relate to.
Creating Spaces that Help us Create
Writer at Oneistox
● 08 mins read
Creativity in the times of working from home
Image Source- pinterest.com
With the entire world gripped in the clutches of a global pandemic, a lot of us are having to work from home to ensure the show goes on, like it always must. However, as we try to settle into these routines and adjust to this new normal, many of us are beginning to realise that working from home presents its own set of challenges. This is so because most of our home spaces were never designed to become or accommodate full-fledged office spaces and, as a result, we find that the quality of our work is not up to our usual creative standards.
But don’t fret, we’ve got this! Here’s a look at how we can use the concept of environmental psychology to better our current workspaces by incorporating some minor tweaks and additions in the endeavour to boost our creativity.
1. Drawing a line
Set up an exclusive office space. Image source- shutterstock.com
First of all, we need to set up a space that we designate particularly to work as a physical boundary. By enforcing this, segregation would also then be reiterated within our mental space by separating leisurely and stray thoughts from work-oriented ones. In this manner, whenever we sit down in that space, our mind will have, thus, been conditioned to direct its attention towards our work. On the other hand, working on our beds, or in other places that are usually reserved for leisure activities, can have a reverse effect, rendering us completely unfocused on the task at hand, as our minds associate these spaces with relaxation. Our workspace should exclusively be our workspace.
This also works the other way around. After office hours are over, we should be able to ‘switch off’ all work thoughts when we walk away from your office space and instead relax and let our brain cool down, just like we would, had we been coming back home after a usual workday at the office.
2. Expanding our mental space
Creating the illusion of height using vertical stripes on the walls. Image source- blog.bostoninteriors.com
The construal level theory states that thinking of, or looking at faraway sights stimulates the mind into abstract veins of thought, while objects closer to us bring about more practical and detail-oriented thinking. Thus, to cultivate creative thinking through our r space, we would need to make it feel more expansive and welcoming to new ideas because our mental space inadvertently becomes a reflection of our physical space.
We can experiment with, and change the layout of our spaces. Push the furniture against the wall- we can safely assume that we won’t be entertaining any guests anytime soon and so we can freely convert our living rooms or drawing rooms into our makeshift studios. The floor is our friend and an open layout will make our workspaces look more bright and airy, motivating us and making us happier while working.
High ceilings too, add to making our space feel bigger. In case our ceilings aren’t all that high, we can implement a few tricks such as using vertically striped wallpaper or we can paint your walls in vertical stripes that draw the eyes upwards, thus achieving the illusion of height.
3. Colour me right
Though both the set-ups are almost alike, the image on the left (source- pinterest.com) feels more welcoming, Open and bright than the image on the right (source- pinterest.com) which has a dark wall just in front of the table.
To further make our spaces seem ever-expanding and make them conducive to creative thinking, we need to ensure they have the right colours because colours determine how a mind perceives distance.
In reality, farther off objects tend to appear in lighter and cooler colours whereas closer objects are darker and warmer. So, to further reinforce the concept of abstract thinking, we can go ahead and give those walls a makeover. By painting them in colours like blue, green and other earthy shades, we perceive a space or a room as being more spacious than it really is. The colour green, which our mind correlates to all things natural, is also said to have a positive effect in triggering creative thoughts just as a rendezvous with nature or a walk in the park would. However, we should probably try and stay away from bright or vibrant colours such as reds and yellows that may just divert our attention from our tasks and overstimulate our minds.
By choosing the right colours, we will effectively create the illusion of lateral depth and a wide surrounding space to then help us generate original and out of the box ideas.
4. Light it up
Face a window when you work to allow nature to inspire you as well as to make the most of daylight. Image source- pinterest.com
When we sit down to work, let's make sure and draw the curtains aside and let sunlight stream in. It really does do wonders for our creative brain cells- all that natural light. Looking into the distance at faraway views that our windows afford also helps stimulate abstract thoughts. The sunlit hours of the day have proven to be better suited for working with their warmer colours than the cool night hours that bring about a feeling of tiredness and the want to sleep. Thus, let's correct our sleep cycles and make out mothers happy by waking up early to make judicious use of a young day.
Adding mirrors also help some by reflecting the light into every nook and cranny and offering a twofold increase in the brightness of our space. However, make sure to choose curtains in pale and light colours that don’t obstruct light even when drawn shut.
Towards the evening, refrain from lights that are too stark or cause glare because harsh lighting prevents our mind from venturing into creative lines of thought and instead coerces it into fact-oriented thinking. Artificial light that mirrors the blue lighting of the evening hours can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm, whose primary cue is daylight.
5. Elements of nature
Include elements of nature, like plants, in your workspace. Image source- pinterest.com
Nature often has a way to bring out some of our best ideas. So, let's not hold back on adding plants and other elements of nature in the form of woven baskets, wooden tables, and the like, into our workspace. The growth of the plants is sure to manifest in our thinking processes too by triggering new ideas, and other natural stimuli will help create a more positive and relaxing ambience.
Art should be a staple in our spaces. This goes without saying! How else do we expect to create a thing of beauty without first appreciating the beauty of a thing? We must choose art that we love, pick out peaceful and open landscapes that appeal to our senses and that allow our minds to wander down uninhibited chains of thought during the ideation process. Creativity needs a muse as the human mind is very impressionistic and thrives off inspiration.
6. The perfect ambience
Image Source- unsplash.com
Once we’ve done all of the above, what remains is only to ensure that we create the perfect ambience to compliment our space. Smell, for instance, is a powerful sense that can induce a variety of emotions. An article illustrates that particular scents can even go so far as helping the mind focus. For some people, the smell of coffee or cinnamon-vanilla gets them all powered up and ready to work. Aromatherapy, which makes use of essential oils such as rosemary and peppermint can also help boost our creativity and motivate us. So, the good news is, we can finally make use of those scented candles we’d bought on a whim but hadn’t got the chance to use until now. However, we do need to ensure that the scents we choose are subtle and blend into our space because too strong a scent would prove counterproductive by completely occupying our mind.
Another element of your space that is often overlooked is the right noise. Contrary to popular beliefs, sometimes certain noises can actually help channelise your attention. A 2012 study showed that noise that hovers in the range of 70 db can act prove beneficial to the creative process. It provides just the right amount of distraction needed to prevent our mind from focusing too closely on the details and instead forces it to take a step back to focus on the larger picture. Even a genius like Steve Jobs recognised this and often used a certain kind of music to boost his creativity.
Creativity in the times of working from home
The environment we create for ourselves determines how we react to it and influences the way we think. Our office at home must reflect our personality and requires quite the amount of thought and consideration before it can return the favour. Oneistox’s curated architecture and design online workshops can also provide you with an interactive and collaborative platform to use this precious ‘work-corner’ for some fun-learning. Thus, we can use this opportunity of working at home to further stimulate our creativity by creating a space that encourages new ideas and expansive thinking.
So, don’t hesitate to play around until you find the perfect ambience for your work-from-home space. Let's get creative!
Designing Sustainable Buildings
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Simar completed her architectural education in 2019 and has ever since helped lay the literary foundations for various ecological research projects with the Landscape Foundation. She is passionate about writing and especially proud of fandom trivia that she has acquired across years of reading, right from Ladybird to Tolkien to Arundhati Roy.
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