creative space

Trying to find inspiration at the kitchen table isn’t always easy. So 44’s Nick Robbins asked some of the team how they’ve built oases of creative space while working from home…

I’ve been fortunate that despite working from home since March 2020, I’ve been able to change my immediate scenery relatively regularly, which means I’ve always been thinking about how to make each new ‘office’ a positive, creative space.

My first choice during the initial shuffle was a tall wall desk, which saw me perched on a stool while facing an oppressively blank wall. Zero out of 10 for creative inspiration and somehow lower than that for lumbar comfort!

Then a move to the kitchen table, and eventually to the spare bedroom, when it turned out I couldn’t be trusted to work that close to the fridge all day.

In September last year I was able to move house to a bit of a doer-upper. As we all know, renovating and redecorating can often spill over from the weekend, and this means my work position is often dictated by my painting and decorating speed. I wouldn’t recommend creative thinking fuelled by paint fumes, either.

However, each time I’ve moved and set up a new workspace, I’ve tried to keep a few basics in mind to ensure I avoid the situation where my creative mind goes as blank as a magnolia wall. I also asked some of the creative talent I speak to every day at 44 to let me know how they ensure they’re working in a creative space.

My top tips for building a creative space

Go green
Now, I’m hardly Percy Thrower, so I’m not suggesting anything too elaborate here. But a succulent or two in sight does make a big difference to me. I started reading about biophilic design, a movement that extols the virtue of architecture and interior design connecting the inhabitant to nature.

A study frequently referenced by its proponents found that post-operative patients in a hospital room that had an exterior view of greenery recovered faster and required less pain relief than those with a view only of buildings and concrete. I can’t comment on my eucalyptus’ analgesic qualities, but it’s something else to look at when struggling to come up with a headline!

Look out
If you can, orient your desk to face a window, even if that means a slightly odd room layout. One of the best purchases I’ve made during lockdown was a fat ball, which ended up in a previously hidden bird feeder in my garden. It has brought the view outside my window to life. I find just looking out is now a great way to clear my head. It’s so much easier to think creatively when not staring at a screen.

Yes, maybe it is too long since I’ve seen my friends in person, but Woody 1 and Woody 2, the woodpeckers who now frequent my garden are fair substitutes. And they never ask me to join a Zoom quiz.

Step away
The best advice I can give is to just step away from the desk regularly. As perfect as you can make that creative space, it’s going to be less perfect than any other room in the house that isn’t home to your laptop. Get up, walk around, make a cup of tea, annoy the cat, put a wash on, empty the dishwasher (again). It’s good for your eyes, good for your body and good for your mind too.

How 44 team members made their own creative spaces

Gemma Houltby: “I find it really helpful to change location a bit and I’m lucky we have the flexibility to do that. Some days I’ll work from the kitchen, others from the living room. We’ll all swap around depending on our mood. I think it helps to limit the ‘sameness’ of the days at the moment and change things up a bit.”

Corin Ashby: “I think about my position in that creative space. One change I’ve made this year is to raise the height of the monitor and pull my mouse mat forward. It sounds strange, but that stops my dodgy shoulder aching so much and hopefully improves my chance of creativity.”

Jessica Grove: “The best thing about my creative space is my dog Captain, who likes to check in on me through the day and often pop up on the camera when I’m in a call. We’ve also made some home improvements to the kitchen/my office since I’ve been WFH, because I spend most of my time in here. I’m always thinking about things to spruce up!”

Simon Henning: “I’ve got a paperweight on top of my computer speaker that’s inscribed with a quote from Benjamin Franklin: ‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing’. It greets me every morning when I boot up my computer. The first part of the quote puts me in good stead for the day job when I need to give myself a bit of a push. The second part inspires me to do crazy things like fly to China two days before the country decides to lock down, giving me seven-and-a-half months of potential book material.”

Have you got any advice for making a creative space at home? Or would you like to put our creative brains to the test for your next project? Why not get in touch?