In the Moment

Building Collaborative Spaces – The Design of an Innovation Studio

Amanda Munday

It’s been a transformative year for The Moment. Last April, we moved into our first studio space. Driving the “Studio Launch Project” has been an exciting time for me – working to build the actual Studio for The Moment’s innovation studio work is a rare (and fun) work challenge. It provided an opportunity to not just build an office from the ground up, but to truly think about how collaborative spaces are designed. What features make a space collaborative? What furniture, colour schemes, lighting and sound contribute to its success? What tools can be brought into the space to enhance the work of participants, and how can we create an environment where people feel comfortable in exploring complex challenges?

Initially, I naively planned to have a good chunk of the design work complete before we moved in. Inevitably, most of the effort behind designing the space happened once we were in the studio for a few weeks. My big take-away? Floor plans, paint chips, and clippings from furniture magazines are helpful for imagining what the space could look like, but truly understanding the opportunities and limitations become much clearer once you’re actually in the space. We imagined that workshops would happen in the studio, but the effective placement of whiteboards, proper sound barriers, the right look and feel for participants felt right only once we experienced the space for a good amount of time. The lesson to live and feel a space for what it is has been incredibly valuable.

Our Studio space is designed to ignite conversation and contribute to the success of our clients who are engaging in complex systems change work.

Dan, our Chief Collaboration Officer, often says that the best way to spark teamwork is for teams to get to work. It’s on this very ideal that the studio has become an energizing container for us all. Our studio is far more than just a place for Dan, Greg, Mark and I to hangout each day. I have come to know it as an authentic venue from where conversations emerge. Furniture in the space is configurable and few things are static: our desks can seamlessly transform into a 20 person classroom, the whiteboards roll in and out as needed, and chairs nest and expand to suit the number of people in the space. The walls are intentionally left blank. There is no better canvas for idea rich post-its then a large, white wall. The bright splash of colour reminds us that creativity, play, and innovation are closely linked.

Our Studio space is designed to ignite conversation and contribute to the success of our clients who are engaging in complex systems change work. We’ve held a couple 25 person casual conversations, where participants sit in a large circle to discuss important community challenges, and smaller workshops where participants worked in pairs to collaborate and output through an online wiki in real-time. With an exciting season of projects on deck, I imagine that only more ideas for working layouts and space design will emerge. Which is the point of an innovation studio, isn’t it?

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