How can design facilitate and stimulate creativity in the workplace?
BENJAMIN LINA: This is a complicated issue. It’s like asking a skateboarder to ride in a skate park rather than in the street. Everyone has a place where they feel most at ease, or where they want to congregate. We’re interested in understanding how to re-create that feeling in the spaces we make.
What are the qualities of a good studio?
Creative space should be absent of all visual pollution. Our eyes, and therefore our minds, can be easily distracted by forms, colours and images. When that happens, the distraction can be difficult to undo. Inspiration is necessary, but it’s best kept at the source, in the early stages of documentation. If it’s strong enough, it will stick, at least in essence.
Can creativity be objectified?
No, never. We are constantly being influenced by memories, sensations and opinions. This is what keeps creativity alive and what makes it perceptible. We see it as the ability to transmit a sensation to others, whether physical or psychological.
When it comes to the workspace, what sort of things can kill creativity?
I’d say the feeling of being ill at ease in a space or environment, the sensation of not feeling at home or of not having the necessary tools. Every occupation demands creativity. The idea is to ask yourself what you need and how you use it. A writer does not work from the same place as a mathematician, despite the fact that both use a pencil. This is where work becomes interesting. We don’t believe in the idea of a predetermined, one-size-fits-all model.
The future of the workplace is remote. How do you imagine the digital office will affect its physical counterpart?
The transition is already taking place. The internet enables us to work from anywhere. That said, many still require a definitive space. Despite the dematerialization of the objects that surround us, space is necessary, and always will be.
The Immersed Office offers an escape from the outside world. How did materials contribute to the immersive experience?
Materials play a very important role in all physical projects. They’re the spirit of an assignment, yet they’re too often used as the skeleton. We try to keep materials at the forefront of our work. Materials possess a strong essence and identity, so why cover them up? For Immersed Office, we opted for simple building materials that are typically used for support – like timber beams, concrete blocks and plywood – and put them on show.
What can design do to help people disconnect?
For us, the role of design – in projects of all types and sizes – is to give people the sensation of being transported elsewhere, to enable their escape, so to speak.
How might your approach to Immersed Office be applied to larger work environments?
Unlike objects, spaces can’t be easily interchanged. Projects on a different scale or in a different location don’t feel the same as the original. Immersed Office was designed specifically for l’Hôtel Micholet. We can’t take that structure and put it into a new space; it just doesn’t work that way. What we can do, though, is to relocate the idea and apply it elsewhere.
Photos Lothaire Hucki
This interview was featured in Frame 112. Find your copy in the Frame store.