Let Interior Design Inspire Connection and Creativity?
Modern organizations and innovative startups already understand the importance of inspiring workspaces in facilitating creativity. Some companies spend millions of dollars creating unique physical spaces for their offices.
Google was one of the first to realize the potential of interior design in relation to productivity. Hiring Evolution Design in 2008 to redesign their Zurich office, the project revolutionized the way workspaces are imagined, starting a trend known as the ‘Googly design’.
Since then, many global companies have followed suit, tapping into the expertise of renowned designers to help them realize unique working spaces.
But which interior elements exactly impact your state of mind? And how do office spaces serve the needs of workers while contributing to the work process?
How do proportions, colors, and shapes influence the mind?
Some of the earliest writings about the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui date back 3,500 years, advising how to furnish and decorate your home for an optimized energy flow.
Calming hues such as ice blue and mint commonly have a relaxing effect on people, while bright red or purple are associated with passion, energy, and creativity.
But it doesn't stop there. Countless other strategies exist to make spaces more appealing. Mirrors create an illusion of space, and the symmetrical positioning of furniture creates a harmonious feeling.
Furthermore, the theory behind color psychology is as revered and disputed as astrology. While some studies show specific hues have similar effects on the human brain, others confirm that each individual responds differently to colors in general.
The point is, the importance of interior design was never underestimated when it comes to our homes, locations of leisure and hospitality, or places of worship. The past two decades have fully recognized it as a tool for alignment between company culture, employee morale, and optimal performance.
How do you create an environment that attracts start-ups?
Similar to how Google hired Evolution Design to create an office space with a unique architectural identity, the team behind the B. Amsterdam building also took a unique approach.
"We didn’t want the design to seem too much like a real concept, it had to feel like a bunch of companies working from their living rooms."
What stands out immediately is the high number of communal areas, and the peculiar art ranging from larger-than-life toy statues to old-timer cars in the middle of the room. A stark contrast to the dull interior left behind by the building’s former inhabitant, an old IBM factory.
To attract young start-ups, a brand new concept was conceived. With a modest budget, the team used mostly recycled materials to achieve a raw, informal look for the first building, B1.
Even when their budget allowed them to hire designers from Studio Fabrick, they wanted to stick to similar aesthetics, resisting anything that looked too ‘styled’ or intentional.
Tessa Bakker, CEO of B. Amsterdam, explains how they came up with the idea: “We didn’t want the design to seem too much like a real concept, it had to feel like a bunch of companies working from their living rooms. A place that inspires a very informal way of approaching one another, where you feel at home, but always bump into new people.”
This informal vibe is better suited to start-up culture, as the goal is to create a dynamic that facilitates connection.
Tessa: “More connection leads to more collaboration; meeting more clients, maybe investors, and cultivating new friendships. Increased collaboration increases business growth too, which is why we created so many spaces for tenants to meet.”
How do you let art and design inspire creative thinking?
Besides fostering connection, the choice of colors and artworks throughout the building is also meant to stimulate creativity. The unexpected design elements invite tenants to think outside the box.
Tessa:”Matching our raw, informal aesthetic, we opted for unusual art that can be encountered outside in everyday life too. It’s mostly street art, like graffiti-clad walls, a lot of huge plants, and cars that you can actually hop into.”
Some unconventional decisions were also made for the layout. The stairwell walls were painted pitch black, with inspirational quotes, and the run-down passageway from the parking deck to the building was intentionally left in ruins.
Tessa:”We made the conscious decision to leave the passageway in its dilapidated state, instead of renovating it. It creates a disconcerting feeling that switches once you enter the building, seeing its inspiring interior. Like an unexpected plot twist, if you will.”
How do workspaces influence productivity?
B. Amsterdam offers more than office space for companies and freelancers. Divided over the buildings there’s a gym, padel club, multiple restaurants, and full-service event spaces.
Enough reason to want to be among the 350+ start-ups, scale-ups, and corporate organizations in there. Shannon Bourke-Meagher, (HR Manager of transport company Quicargo that resides in B. Amsterdam) certainly recognizes the versatility offered by their office space.
Shannon:”The space doesn’t feel strictly all work and no play, but an environment of both. There are areas designed to support professional activities and areas meant to relax”
Being able to switch between the two has proven to be very beneficial. Shannon:”If I can go to a place where I can truly unwind and enjoy my break properly, this change of scenery definitely helps with productivity”
The unconventional art and layout also contribute to this, as Shannon continues: “To me, being surrounded by plants has the same effect as being in nature, which is a stress reliever. There is an abundance of plants in the building, so feeling less stressed means I can be more productive too. Also, the art and vibrant colors help, as I’m a very visual person when it comes to creativity.”
It’s clear that the ecosystem of B. Amsterdam thrives through connection, inspiring productivity and creativity. Management even notices some tenants feeling a little too much ‘at home’.
Tessa:”You have definitely succeeded in creating an informal atmosphere when tenants feel free to move our objects around the building. Whenever we lose a huge art piece or sofa, a tenant will have moved it to their office, genuinely thinking that nothing belongs anywhere specific.”
All in good fun, the team plans to bring their concept to the next level. In the building opposite B. Amsterdam, the team plans to develop a living community with residential apartments.
Tessa:”Strongly believing there should be more connection in living situations too, we are going to use the same concept to create a community in a residential building.”