Innovation Isn't a Luxury

When Spacesmith sat down with Subculture’s Michael Maness earlier this year to talk about the life cycle of companies, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about the importance of innovation. All companies are born from an idea, whether it is for a new product, a service, or even a new process of doing work. From there, a company begins to form and grow until it becomes successful and able to rely on its reputation to maintain status quo. And then trouble hits. Newer companies rise to power with newer ideas, newer services, and newer processes. If the big successful company cannot adapt, it will slowly shrink until it disappears. We can all think of a few companies that met their demise due to a lack of internal evolution. But why did this have to be? Why couldn’t the Blockbusters and the Kodaks of the world change in pace with the rest of the world? The simple answer is: they didn’t have an established culture of innovation.

Supporting innovation includes changes in policy and office culture which does not cost the company money. The architecture and design of an office plays a huge role. Dedicated space for innovation is becoming more and more prevalent in the corporate world and will soon become a typical program requirement, like offices and conference rooms. One of the biggest requests we are seeing in the industry now is retrofitting an existing workspace to accommodate an innovation room or zone. These rooms vary in size from that of a conference room, to a full floorplate. Below are the most sought-after features of innovation rooms today.

Change of Atmosphere

An innovation room’s first job is to take you out of your everyday grind so you are able to think in a new way. There should be a clear and obvious shift in design aesthetic when comparing a typical office space to an innovation room in any given company.

Technology Heavy

Technology tools could be the focus of the product or service you provide, or they might be what enables you to do the work required. Either way, technology plays a leading role when planning an innovation room design.

 Editable Surfaces

Including writable or trackable surfaces in your innovation hub is a low-tech intervention that creates a high-impact result.

Reconfigurable Furniture

Variety and customization is key when it comes to furniture selection for innovation rooms. It has been scientifically proven that a change in posture, like moving from a task chair to a swivel ottoman, can change the way you think. Fluid and active motion allowed by more flexible seating can lead to fluid and creative thinking.


A culture of innovation is one that places the same level of importance on creative and/or disruptive thought as profitability and sustained growth. Big and small companies are realizing that, although it may hurt their bottom line in the present to reduce billable hours and increase overhead, they cannot afford to ignore the importance of innovation any longer. There is a fork in the road, even if you can’t see it yet. It might sneak up on you, or, like in Kodaks case, you may see it coming for years.

A decision has to be made. Will you embrace innovative thinking to evolve your business, or will you risk the fate of Blockbuster and Kodak?

Amy Jarvis

Amy Jarvis

Amy JarvisHelen Zouvelekis