The world's 10 most innovative workspaces

Barnaby Smith

It is common story, especially among those in creative fields, that one’s best ideas come in the shower. Indeed, a recent study suggests that 72 per cent of people experience fresh thinking and clarity when showering.

The reason, it seems, is distraction. If you are struggling with a problem – perhaps sat at a desk – it is beneficial to give yourself what author and psychologist Shelley H. Carson calls an “incubation period”. She says, “A distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

This has had a major influence on office design. Some of the most innovative workspaces offer distraction in order to foster creative thinking.

Pearlfisher, London

Pearlfisher’s headquarters feature an art installation of a pool of 81,000 white balls, into which anyone can gleefully plunge. The idea is to foster a sense of play to aid creative thinking.

The Edge, Amsterdam

This spectacular space houses Deloitte, who have developed an app that guides you to a parking spot and finds you a spare desk – employees aren’t fixed to permanent workspaces here. 

Some of the most innovative workspaces offer distraction in order to foster creative thinking.

miLES storefronts, New York

Dubbed the “AirBnB for storefronts”, this initiative sees vacant commercial premises offered as short-term leases to businesses, creating a shared public workspace with a café-like ambience.

SWA Group, California

SWA Group features a unique “culture wall” adorned with images of inspiring individuals and examples of outstanding work.

Epic Systems, Wisconsin

This software manufacturer has designed its hallways to certain themes. One replicates a New York subway carriage; another is inspired by Indiana Jones.

Google, Zurich

Arguably the godfather of innovative modern office spaces, Google’s Zurich office features fireman’s poles for access between floors and a slide to reach the cafeteria.

Bahnhof, Stockholm

This extraordinary workspace is a “cavern” dug out of rock 100 metres below Stockholm, originally designed as a nuclear bunker. Adding to its mystique is the fact it once housed WikiLeaks.

Beats Electronics, California

This office is a colour-coded labyrinth of communal workspaces and relaxation areas. The colours fit the intended mood and function, says architect Barbara Bestor. “People from one quadrant will walk over to use the blue one, for example, because it’s peaceful and serene… The colours help create distinct locations.”

Parliament, Oregon

Advertising agency Parliament’s office features an array of recycled materials, from street signs to pizza ovens.

Bathroom workspaces

Perhaps it is possible to make the shower your office after all. A recent trend among home-workers in creative fields, with houses of a certain size, has been to set up a bathroom workspace.

Barnaby Smith

Barnaby Smith is a writer and journalist who has written for a variety of publications across several subject areas in the UK, Australia and Switzerland.

Image: Pearlfisher Facebook