Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lost in space.

One of the things in modern life that really rubs my goat the wrong way is the near incessant blather about how changing the design and configuration of one's office space will lead to huge leaps in creativity.

I just saw an article in "Agency Spy" about an agency in Detroit opening a "collaborative creative space." Listen to this folderol spewing from the lips of various mucketies.

“Having dedicated space downtown brings us closer to the resilient, fiery creative spirit of Detroit, where we can continue to enrich our work, attract more diverse talent and deepen the impact we are creating for our clients and our community.”

The spewing continues thusly: “Traditional offices are designed for tasks, not inspiration, so everything about D-313 is designed with collaboration and innovation in mind….From gigabit internet to modular furniture, the space is built to flex and adapt in ways that allow us to optimize creativity. In minutes, it can transform from a living room, to a classroom, to a formal meeting space.”

I love one line in particular, the bushwa about traditional offices being designed for tasks, not inspiration.

I mean, really.

You see, we have a task. To create good work that imparts useful consumer information in an executionally brilliant way.

Our job is not to wait for inspiration to strike. It's to get down to it and work. 

When early man was painting on the walls of the Lascaux caves some 20,000 years ago, they didn't worry about their space being designed with collaboration and innovation in mind. They painted.

In the last few years I've been lucky enough to spend an afternoon in Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Oak Park, Illinois, and Rembrandt's studio in Amsterdam. I've been to Dickens' little house in London, and seen Poe's cottage in the Bronx. I've seen a plaque on a building in Manhattan where Melville wrote "Billy Budd." 

I'll put it as simply as I can. It's not the space that makes the artist. It's the artist that makes the space. I don't think Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon," Solzhenitsyn's "Ivan Denisovitch" or Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on Ice," suffered for having been written in prison spaces that would drive a cockroach claustrophobic.

If you can only work when the space and your mood are just right, you're not a professional, you're a dilettante. You engage not in the hardwork of concentrating and thinking, but in the pretense of dilettantism.

I've been at shitty agencies with great offices, and great agencies that look like a rat's nest.

It's not the space. It's what you do in it.

That's up to you.

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