If you are a facilitator of creative processes you will know the hassle we sometimes have to go through in order to find a space for creative collaboration.
Such spaces are usually open. They enable flexible adjustments (eg. multiple seating options, movable tables etc.) and they should be inviting. A simple hotel meeting room with a flip chart usually does not do the job, if you want to have an inspired session with you collaborators. A lot can be done by adjusting any given room, but sometimes it is just easier to find one that already has all these features. So where can we look for creative spaces?
Find creative spaces online
Usually, if you know your city well, you will find creative spaces easily. You just know the usual suspects. But what happens if you don’t know the city well, maybe because you are going somewhere for your project? There is a really handy online tool that can help you: the creative space explorer. It is
based on a global crowdsourced map of creative spaces. Users can explore different approaches of creative spaces and make their own contributions to the map. Whether a space is online or offline, corporate or community driven, temporary or permanent – every hub worldwide deserves to be on the map as long as the contributor can state why this space is particularly interesting (for other hub creators).
As the description on their website states, not all spaces are available for rent. Some of them are corporate, but this resource really comes in handy when you want to find a place or when you are looking for inspiration in order to create your own creative space.
It is great fun to virtually travel the world and see what spaces people have created for their creative collaboration. I was surprised to see that there are 58 spaces in Germany, 35 of which in Berlin alone. If you know any other creative space or you host one of your own and it is not on there yet, you should definitely get in contact with the makers of the website and publish it there.
Find creative spaces offline
In case you don’t find anything on the map, it is a little bit more troublesome. A good approach is to google co-working spaces in the neighborhood. They often have workshop areas or big meeting rooms, where you can easily host any kind of collaborative activity. Hotels, Restaurants and Bars also provide space, but usually it is not really creative. All these options will therefore require much more effort from your side as a host to transform the space into something that you want for your collaboration experience.
Creative spaces I found in the past
Looking back at my own past projects I have to say that working in a creative environment is really important, if you want to facilitate a really inspiring session. I really enjoyed working in the following locations around the world:
One of my projects brought me to THE CANVAS in Perdana, Kuala Lumpur. This is really an awesome space with a lot of flexibility. The best about it: all walls are covered in whiteboard color! You can write and draw everywhere. (In case you go there, check out if Mr. Peter is still selling his mindblowing chicken rice around the corner.)
In Delhi I have only worked in two creative spaces so far: the co.working space in GK. It also offers a pretty good flexibility since the tables can be tucked away. The screaming yellow wall will wake you up in case of sleepiness. Besides that I worked from SOCIAL offline in Hauz Khas Village, which is really nice. (For some reason their website is down at the moment.) A restaurant/club at night and a co-working space during the day. While the normal co-working space is nice for working alone or in a small team of computer nerds behind their machines, they also have a more flexible space for workshops etc. on the upper floor.
Since I was working for the HPI School of design thinking in Potsdam for three years, of course this is the first space that comes to my mind. There are many different rooms and halls of different sizes, all equipped with flexible furniture and lots of material for collaboration. The HPI Academy usually uses another space for their professional education programs, which allows them to work on any given day – even if there is normal university program going on.
In Berlin the betahaus of course offers a broad variety of inspiring spaces, such as an innovation space, a hardware.colab or a woodshop. We did several workshops there, when I was working for the HPI. The Supermarkt Berlin offers a pretty clean and empty space, which leaves everything open for your own inspiration. We did a small workshop there, which felt a little bit strange, because the space was so huge. But if that is what you need… go for it.
In Heidelberg I had really enjoyed working with the Design and Co-Innovation Center in the so called APPHAUS. This space is deliberately designed in a way to facilitate collaboration. While my own former team in Berlin had at least a small space with a view to the Fernsehturm, they only recently got their own big space, located in a building across the street. I hope to be able to visit that soon.
These spaces are just the remarkable ones, maybe in a future post, I will look at all the hotels and restaurants I used as collaborative spaces and provide those addresses as well.
Of course in Aarhus you have to go to the Kaos Pilots. Their space is just amazing, since it is located close to the harbor and has a lot of light and openness. I don’t think they rent it out, but if you want to experience the space you can do so, in one of their masterclasses. I attended the one on “the art and craft of facilitating learning spaces”.
In Sao Paulo the team of design echos has done a really good job at designing a collaborative space for their escola de design thinking. In Porto Allegre I had the great joy of doing a small session in the “school of creative activites” Perestroika. If you go to Porto Allegre, go there, but is a great bunch of people creating really exciting learning experiences. As far as I know, they don’t rent out their space though.
Of course in the US you will find a trillion of those spaces. I had the joy to attend the Hive leadership training in San Francisco, which took place in the impact hub San Francisco. For our training session they offered all kinds of different spaces.
If you are in the bay area, of course you have to visit the d.school at Stanford. It’s probably the mother of all creative spaces – or at least it is the Miss universe of creative spaces, if such a competition existed. Since the d.school guys always iterate on everything they do, the space has evolved into something really awesome over the years. Every detail is there for a purpose. I visited them several times during my time at the HPI and at SAP.
How to create a creative space
If you want to know more about how to create creative spaces, the following book is really recommended.
The two Scotts – Scott Doorley and Scott Whithoft from d.school Stanford – provide a really comprehensive overview and some hands-on methods to make any space into an inspiring one for creative collaboration.
We will have more on this topic in the upcoming months under the headline of places.