Mark Twain was said to have written his first great work, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County in a cabin that was no larger than ten feet by ten feet. Artists in New York and Chicago often are cramped into tiny apartments that are only slightly larger than that as well. These examples may give the appearance that your space does not effect your ability to create, but it does.
If you fancy yourself a artist and you work in a decrepit whole in the wall studio then you might find it easier to produce morbidly introspective or existential works any day of the week. On the other hand, if you are more of a creative professional then your might want to find a place that allows some oxygen to get to your brain and a little Vitamin D on your skin.
It has been shown that natural light and open air are good for work and the creative process from a biological standpoint but let us just consider the aesthetics for a second. Your job is to design, fabricate, conceptualize, or otherwise come up with beautiful solutions to a range of problems that span the length of our society. The idea that you would be creating all these solutions in a room where the only amenity to speak of is wi-fi is a bit preposterous. Especially when that old writers block rears its ugly head. A few things you may need to be effective are: open area, natural light, novelty, and privacy.
Open Area is essential, as ergonomics would suggest, you need at least as much space as your body will take up. But just as your body can feel cramped, so too can your mind. Having a little head room reinforces openness and possibility as opposed to limitation and restraint. Creativity is openness in action. To be open, be out in the open. If you don’t have access to a great loft with a skylight, and you are stuck in a cramped space, make sure you take a break outside to take a breather. Even if you aren’t a smoker, it is good to take a step outside every couple hours to stretch.
Natural Light, everything looks better in natural light, well because its you know, it is natural. Indoors, natural light produces soft shadows and variations in color that change in the day. It helps you to subtly keep track of time as well. Sundials aren’t really effective when they are in a concrete box. If there is a view then even better, it leads to the next tip.
Novelty is necessary in the same way that space is. It reinforces creative thinking, in this case because of the new. Even if you have the other concepts in your space, utilizing the same space over and over again will kill your brain. How can you come up with new ideas if everything around you is old? That was rhetorical. One of the reasons being creative is fun is simply because of the novelty, it is stimulating and new connections are being fired in your brain. This can be achieve through design, by having a variety of shapes and colors in your are, or simply through new information. Charging your brain up by reading the local news or a chapter or two of an interesting book can give you that creative kick as well.
Privacy, yes privacy. Having a great time around you to inspire new ideas is absolutely important. On the matter of output though, after the brainstorming and pow wowing are over you actually need to focus on your work. You need some peace and relative quiet to be productive. There is a fine line here between quiet and silence, everyone’s needs are different. Some people literally need visual walls up to block out others because they can be distracting but simply wearing head phones in a coffee shop can be enough. Privacy and novelty are not necessarily mutually exclusive either. You can trigger your brain with word of the day and still remain in your bubble. But having the bubble in the first place is what counts is important when its time to get things done.
If it means getting out of the cubicle to stare at traffic for 30 seconds or switching the coffee shop you go to for one day, these little bits are not only going to help you maintain a more healthy work space, but allow you to function a little bit better.