What if a simple change like adding a new painting to your workspace inspires the next successful marketing campaign? Or if keeping a tidy desk results in the next big idea for your company? The proper workspace environment may be exactly what you need to provoke more of those “a-ha” moments… And boost the bottom line!

Most people associate “creativity” with art and music, thus perpetuating the “I’m not creative” belief. However, self-expression manifests itself in different forms for everyone, so your workspace is a great place to start. There isn’t just one way to design a workspace because the process is as unique as the individual.

According to Suzanne Seymour, owner of Suzanne Seymour Interior Designs and Decatur CoWorks resident member, “Common workspace variables like color and lighting have a huge effect on the creative process. When these ingredients are combined in just the right way, you can create a space that expresses individuality and fosters maximum creativity.”

Below are some of Seymour’s design principals for office workspaces.


Color stimulates a wide range of responses. When thinking about sterile office suites with gray cubicles, composing a symphony doesn’t exactly come to mind. Sterile gray cubicles are no more likely to inspire a composer to write as symphony as bright red walls will foster a sense of comfort in a hospital. So carefully consider the scientifically-based implications of each color below when setting-up a workspace.

  • Blue promotes openness and thinking outside the box
  • Yellow increases energy flow
  • Orange helps improve concentration
  • Red enhances attention to detail
  • Green refreshes body and mind
  • Purple encourages fresh perspectives

Tertiary colors like purples, oranges and greens make a space feel welcoming and easy to be in for long periods of time. Contrasting primary colors, on the other hand, do the exact opposite. For instance, fast food restaurants commonly incorporate primary colors in their dining areas to discourage guests from lingering too long.

If you have limited control over your workspace, you can still inject creativity by adding small, colorful objects like mementos, desk “toys” and plants. The next time you’re trying to solve an analytical problem, see if holding a red stress ball helps.


The right kind of lighting also can get the creative juices flowing. There are three basic types of lighting to consider when arranging a workspace: natural, direct and indirect.

  1. Natural light that comes through windows and skylights has nurturing properties that will improve mood, so try to incorporate this as much as possible.
  2. Direct light points downward from desk lamps and ceiling fixtures, casting harsh shadows and making it difficult to focus.
  3. Indirect light is the ideal way to utilize artificial light sources. By pointing light fixtures upward to bounce off the ceiling, the space appears more open and expansive. A torchiere lamp is a popular example of an indirect light fixture.

If you don’t have much control over your workspace lighting, try arranging your workstation in a way that reduces glare, which is harsh on the eyes and often causes headaches, stifling creative thinking.


In a creative workspace, it’s important to have flexible, fluid seating arrangements that allow different positions and configurations for various functions. Being able to alternate from a seated desk to a standing desk will help keep the blood circulating and perspectives fresh. Always make a conscious effort to maintain proper posture while seated. When your back is slouched, the diaphragm’s capacity to breathe is significantly reduced, resulting in less oxygen to the brain.

When collaborating with others, place a premium on comfort with plush lounge spaces. Even consider bean bag chairs for groups of people who can easily sit on the floor. If the group isn’t interested in remaining static, schedule a walking meeting.

Desk Organization

Having an optimal workspace can greatly impact your productivity. Organizational styles vary from person to person, but there are correlations between desk organization and creativity. Studies have found that people who work at a tidy desks are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices. However, many people who have crowded desks are sometimes more creative, depending upon the individual. Be sure to combine your personal productivity system with your office organization. Regardless of your preferred system, the key is to rid your workspace of items that cause clutter and induce feelings of chaos, and hold on to those which boost the aesthetic value and increase productivity.


Environment goes hand-in-hand with creative thinking. The three factors of an office environment that influence creativity are temperature, noise and community.

  1. Temperature - According to a Cornell University Study, the ideal office temperature for productivity and creativity is between 75 and 77 degrees. They also found that participants made 44 percent more mistakes when the room temperature was in the high 60s.
  2. Noise - Countless studies have linked music to increased focus, productivity and mood. However, these positive effects are entirely dependent on the type of music. Services like Focusatwill.com play music proven to increase brainwave activity.
  3. Community – It has been proven that engaging in external communication has a strong relationship with innovative thinking. Being surrounded by others provides the opportunity for feedback and multiple perspectives. If you are struggling to brainstorm in a home or private office, try spending the afternoon at a coworking space where the environment inspires creativity.

When it comes to setting up a space to enhance creativity, remember that one size does not fit all. Understanding the environments in which you thrive will help you choose the best workspace for you. Whether you work in a corporate office, home office, or coworking space, there are measures you can take to maximize your personal and professional success.

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