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Creating an Inspiring and Inviting Workspace

Does your workspace inspire you to greatness?

If you’re a designer, one of the best things you can do to stay productive and prevent creative stagnation is to craft your workspace into a place that you will be excited to work in everyday. Below you’ll find a few tips and a bunch of examples to help you create the ultimate working environment.

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Cut The Clutter

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The first thing you should focus on is creating a clean and inviting workspace. If your desk looks anything like the one in the picture above, it’s time to rethink your organization tactics. Don’t fall into the mistake of using your desk as a quick and easy catch-all, instead trim the items down to two categories: productive and inspiring. If you it doesn’t help you get your work done or inspire your creativity, it’s eating up space uselessly and should be pitched, filed, or moved elsewhere.

Embrace the Absurd

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The two pictures above show just a couple of the many crazy things you’ll find in the Google Office in Zurich. The idea is that unconventional and creative workspaces will help foster unconventional and creative ideas. Odds are, you don’t have the budget to install a slide in your office so try to think of ways you can incorporate this principal on a smaller scale. Always remember that you’re a designer, not an accountant. In other words, don’t stop your workspace design process at tidy and productive. A great workspace will say something about who you are and provide an environment for you to flourish.

Lighting is Everything

As you attempt to take your office from simple to spectacular, consider adding some cool mood lighting like you see in the workspaces below. Some creative lighting can go a long way towards affecting how you feel and think in a given environment. Find lighting that helps put you in the psychological state you find to be the best for producing great work. Just keep in mind that while super dramatic lighting looks really neat, you need to make sure you have an alternative for the times when you just need to see what you’re doing with no distractions.

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This room looks straight out of the Starship Enterprise. I’m not sure what the stage in the center is for but if it’s a holodeck, I want one.

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If you don’t have twenty grand to build a spaceship office and/or hate Star Trek, consider dropping $20 at IKEA to create the soft lighting seen in the picture above. While it’s not ideal for daytime, it might be just perfect as you toil the night away in front of your screen.

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This awesome desk features a strip of color changing LEDs sure to impress your visitors and make you the envy of your fellow nerds.

Room With a View

Closed in offices have a tendency to feel quite claustrophobic after a few hours. A window is one of the best ways to open the space up and prevent cabin fever. As you can see in the pictures below, the more windows the better. The outside world is a sharp contrast to a static office environment and can therefore be an excellent source of inspiration.

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Wall Space

Obviously, most offices aren’t as extravagant as those above and therefore will have a lot more wall space than window area. What you do with this wall space is very important to the overall feel of your workspace. Again I’ll refer to the two categories referenced in the beginning of the article: productive and inspiring. Make sure to focus on these two ideas when deciding how to fill your office walls (it’s best if you can hit both!).

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If you’re shooting for the productive angle, try calendars, bulletin boards and todo lists like the picture above. Remember that these elements should be a good blend of functional and attractive; too much of one might kill the other.

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To create inspirational wall space, find the style or styles of art that speak to your specific tastes and get your brain going. Whether it’s modern typographic art or something out of Da Vinci’s sketchbook, just make sure you won’t get tired of looking at it anytime soon.

Make Your Laptop Feel Right at Home

Whether your laptop is your primary computer or just a travel-friendly companion to your primary desktop machine, be sure to create a permanent space for it if you it as important to your workflow. The most basic ideas involve simply leaving a space where your laptop and sit while the more impressive workspaces have special stands that showcase and elevate a laptop to really highlight its importance and increase its usability.

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More Screens = More Fun

If I learned one thing from my search for the coolest workspaces it’s that those that top the list inevitably have more than one monitor. As you can see in the examples below, as the number of screens increases in a linear fashion, the wow-factor increases exponentially. If you can look at the last picture without the slightest tinge of envy then you either commonly utilize more than eight screens or are in fact not enough of a nerd to appreciate this article.

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Show Us Yours!

Now that you’ve seen our list of awesome work spaces, it’s time for us to see where you work. Snap a picture of your desk or office, upload it to Flickr, TwitPic, or any other picture hosting service, and leave a link in the comments below.