About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Innovative Spaces: is there a relationship between space and creativity?

The conversation around the impact of the physical environment on workplace behaviour has grown over the past few years, aided by the changing nature of our work and the increasing importance of creativity in many industries.

Yet there is still nothing extensive nor conclusive – specifically around building environments for creativity – available as a trusted and easy-to-use resource.

That’s why we are thrilled to be commissioned by Nesta to research and write a book that will uncover and explore the evidence that surrounds this fascinating subject – whether stimulating original thought, engineering encounters, or defining workscapes of the future.

We have already created a collaborative team including the writer and innovation consultant Kursty Groves, the design practice Studio TILT, the IE School of Architecture and Design and the global Impact Hub GmbH to deliver the project. However, there is much more out there than we can manage ourselves.

How are we doing the research?

Of course, we’ll be looking at architecture and what environmental psychology has to say about how our surroundings affect our mood, behaviour and ability to create. But we’ll also delve deeper into the world of neuro-architecture and cognitive studies around individual and group creativity.

We’ll also be looking at large-scale creative spaces and places, going beyond the single hub to networks and innovative workscapes.

Beyond written evidence, we’ll search for real-world examples that may uphold or refute the significance that physical environment plays in supporting innovation in its many guises, within a variety of different communities; across industries, sectors and across the globe.

From creative cultures to innovation labs, agile start-ups to large organizations in both established and emerging economies; not only will we look at the design and organization of the spaces and physical environments, we’ll explore the dynamics between people, process and place.

Finally, we will be digging into the minds of those people at the forefront of thinking in these fields to help shape the story.

What's the output?

We’ll combine our findings from the evidence-based research and thought-leader opinion with practical examples of innovative spaces in action. Our goal: to distil some key learnings and principles that can be used when defining and designing spaces for innovation.

We seek to produce a guide to help people define and design the right spaces to accommodate their own specific innovation needs. It will include interviews, case studies, a practical framework, photographs and diagrams of spaces.

What are we looking for?

We’re specifically looking for spaces that support creativity and innovation, not ‘innovations in workplace design’.

An important distinction is that we’re not looking for new technologies, furniture, systems or organizational models whose sole purpose is to create new types of working (or learning, or performance) environments. Rather, we’re looking for those places and organizations that are designed to support individual and group creativity and/or the innovation process.

We’re looking for a range of examples, across different sectors and industries, including (but not restricted to):

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Government
  • Sport & recreation
  • Retail
  • Commercial
  • Creative
  • Corporate
  • Industrial
  • Transport
  • Energy

And we’re looking globally.  We’ve split the world into the following regions: UK, Europe, North America, Central & South America, Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific.

How can you help?

We have an amazing team already assembled, but in the spirit of open innovation we want to talk to people out there who may not already know who have things to offer to the project.

Please send us links to:

  • Articles, journals, white papers or books
  • Work by thought leaders, experts, researchers or academics
  • Great examples of innovative spaces.

Please clearly state why you think they are relevant to this research. We’ll be using social media and guest blogging here so please follow our progress and get involved.

Our findings will be published in a book and short film which will  be released at a launch event in 2015.

You can also follow us on Twitter, @nesta_uk, @studiotilt, @kurstyg, @iearchitecture, @impacthub. We’ll be using the hashtag #InnovativeSpaces throughout the project.


Kursty Groves

An award winning designer, innovation consultant, TV presenter, speaker, professor and workplace strategy advisor.

Oliver Marlow

Oliver is a multi-platform designer and the co-founder of Studio TILIT.