How to Create Space that Sparks Creativity
Do you need a huge studio before you can paint your masterpiece? An imposing table in your private writing room to intimidate anyone who tries to distract you? Of course not. It’ll be nice to have, or at the very least, interesting. But not having that kind of space doesn’t mean we stop being creative. (Also, we don’t need anyone to distract us. We can do that ourselves.)
If being creative means being able to let our imaginations wander off and bring ideas to life, we should be able to do it anywhere. But when distractions abound or when you particularly need to get in a creating mood, putting ourselves in a space that can spark our creativity helps. It doesn’t even have to be a room with four walls and a door. We looked for inspiration and tips from how some Common Room makers built their space to work and create.
1. Pick a (flexible enough) location.
If you do so many things besides creating your pieces and need a lot of materials to do it, it’s best to have your own private space.
Nyuki + Co’s Nike Nadal-Reyes, a mom and entrepreneur who creates handmade crochet accessories, goes to her “mom cave” whenever she needs to work. With a laundry list of household chores and errands for the family, she gets to focus on crocheting, beading, and designing when it’s time to work. Having that one space—with her desk, her craft cabinet, display stand—allows her to keep everything she needs within reach.
It’s almost similar for artist sisters Ella and Marie Lama. In a previous day-in-the-life video, they showed us that they head upstairs to their attic when it’s time to work. To feel like going to the office, they leave their bedroom and Ella even has an office bag to take with her to their studio-slash-office. When illustrator and lettering artist Ella works, she writes her to-dos for the day on the white board and it’s in the studio where she gets to organize and fix her merchandise as well.
It helps to set boundaries on where you work. Create a dedicated workspace even if you don’t have a separate room for it. In her day-in-the-life video, Common Room and Popjunklove’s Maan Agsalud shows us how she spends her day. She works on her bar table by the window (she prefers to work standing up) and just behind it are her living, dining, and kitchen spaces. When you live in a condo, space can be quite limited. While it’s an open layout, Maan makes sure that when she sits down in front of her dining table, she is in rest mode. She also doesn’t bring any work to the bedroom.
2. Natural light and some nature.
Natural light (lots of it) helps with our mood and productivity. It’s no wonder that work spaces with a view of the outdoors and have natural light are most sought after. We love how Maan’s workstation faces the window of her condo, which affords her all the natural light and a view of the city. “Whenever I feel stressed, I just stare out the window and daydream,” she says.
But if your space doesn’t get a lot of natural light, make sure you have lighting fixtures that will enable you to see clearly what you need to do—whether you have to type or cut patterns, as what the Common Room and Popjunklove teams do in the studio. In episode 4 of Making the Studio, Maan and Roma show us how they lit the space. Because the studio had high ceilings they had to drop the lights and pick cool white lighting—a mix of warm and daylight—to provide some mood but remain functional for a studio space.
Another pick-me-upper in a space are plants. Plants provide many benefits to a work space. They boost our health, lower stress levels, and help us be more creative! (No wonder so many of us became plantitos and plantitas during the pandemic, while rediscovering our old creative hobbies.) According to Space Refinery, “nature relaxes people and allows them to concentrate better, it shifts our brains into a different type of processing mode.”
Shop: Add more greens to your space with Plantable Seed Paper Sheets
3. Consider the sound.
Classical music? The latest from Taylor Swift? Complete silence? Sound can play a part in engaging our creativity.
A research study found that “listening to happy music facilitates divergent thinking.” Creativity entails divergent thinking and when participants were asked to do creative exercises that measured this type of thinking, those who listened to happy music had significantly higher scores compared to those who performed the tasks in silence. When you have a mental block or you just don’t feel inspired, happy sounds might just get you in a creative mood.
Shop: Listen to some tunes with a Make It Up Cassette MP3 Player
…and the color. Most of us have our own preferences when it comes to color. But if you believe color psychology, there are “emotional and psychological connotations between colors and emotions.”
For the best colors for work productivity and getting creative, studies have suggested that the color green boosts creativity and innovation. So if you don’t have a lot of plants in your space, a shade of green may help with a spark of inspiration or solution.
4. Surround yourself with inspiration.
What we’ve seen with most creative spaces among Common Room makers we’ve interviewed is that there’s always a space allocated for inspiring works. Nike has an inspiration board where she puts up her designs. In the office room makeover that Common Room did recently, the team installed a cork wall (among other things) in what used to be a drab office room to make it into a huddle room for a creative agency.
Works that inspire are also evident in the space of graphic designer Gian Wong. In a home tour video, he shows us his mini workspace, where he has a pegboard for the memorabilia and art prints he’s made as well as works from other artists. As he finds it boring to just stay in front of his desk, Gian moves around a lot. He also works in the living area where some beloved creative objects are also on display. “It really makes me happy to see these and if I work here, it feels much more inspiring. And I feel more creative when I work here.”
5. Keep the clutter down.
While we know there’s such a thing as organized chaos, there can also be too many distractions. And clutter is one of them. There are studies that suggest “that when multiple visual stimuli are competing for your attention, you have a harder time narrowing your focus,” reports NBC News. When you’ve got a deadline and those creative juices aren’t flowing, you might be more inclined to clean the clutter than get the work done.
The Ikea desk build video gave some tips on how to organize your desk. Nike, in her craft collection video, showed us her craft cabinet, which keeps her beads and tools properly organized, and the display stand, which she uses to mock up a display.
More than having a space where we can create, being able to create is a gift in itself. Whether you’re doing it in your own studio or just in a tiny corner of your living area that gets to look out the window, keep at it. “Before, I thought, I have to have this, I have to have a studio for me to be able to create and be creative,” said Nike. “But no, you already have what you need. Just make do with that and everything will just follow.”