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Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.

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There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.

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If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:

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 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.

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 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.

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4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.

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5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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From Smart Working to Smart Living.

BTicino, a brand of Legrand Group, commissioned a survey to Ipsos and Osservatorio Internet of Things of Politecnico di Milano. The study investigates the Italians’ perception about IoT devices at home: safety, energy efficiency and comfort are their main requirements.

AfterSmart Working is successfully growing in the workplace and technologies have become more and more user friendly, the desire for “smart” objects grows at home, too: from Smart Working to Smart Living.
The study shows that 76% of interviewees know the meaning of Smart Home and 66% has at least a connected device at home, and it is interesting to note that 39% intends to buy another one in the next 12 months. System reliability and easy installation underlie the processes of purchase, while safety and energy efficiency and comfort are the needs the connected devices can meet specifically.
33,6% considers as absolute priority the control of what is happening in the house, especially when nobody is at home, also through the use of smartphones. But with an aging population, smart home technologies are even a system that can help “frail” people according to 15% of interviewees.
The connected thermostat is a decisive factor of the Smart Home: 44% of interviewees is interested in a connected thermostat to adjust the temperature remotely. Energy saving and lower consumption are the main levers.

BTicino/Legrand respond to the desire for a Smart Home with a new product of the ElioT program:

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Smarther, a user-friendly Wi-Fi connected thermostat. 

The future of IoT is already here with the prototypes Entrée and O-tune:

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new archetypes of products meant to enhance the users’ experience.

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Hoverboards in the warehouse: increasing productivity with fun.

Work in the warehouse of a company has to be fast, efficient and, nowadays, fun. PMC Telecom in the UK has chosen hoverboards to improve the productivity, their service, and the satisfaction of their employees. We asked Steve Mills, PMC Telecom’s Digital Marketing Manager, few questions about their initiative.

How did you come up with the idea of the hoverboards?
PMC Telecom have been “selling on service since 1991”, that’s been our company motto since then, and we continue to uphold this even today.We never planned to introduce hoverboards as a long term thing but we are really open minded and when Garrod, our Warehouse Manager requested one, we were happy to do a trial”.

How was the impact of hoverboards? How did it increase the productivity?
The “hoverboard” or “self balancing scooter” has gone down an absolute storm at PMC. Garrod has been trying the technology for around 2 months now, and so far so good. Productivity has increased massively, and our staff are happier, because, let’s face it, they are fun. Happier staff are more productive workers, so there is always that’s positive. At PMC Telecom we sell a very wide range of products and our warehouse staff spend a long time walking up and down the warehouse. This has been cut significantly, Garrod has become quite the expert on it in particular being able to move from one side of our large warehouse to the other, in a fraction of the time.

Does the use of the hoverboards have any sort of impact on the space?
Health and safety is a really important to us at PMC Telecom. Due to this we ensure there is ample space on the walkways and all walkways are cleared. We have really high standards anyway though and have a really small and dedicated team, so to us this hasn’t really affected us as its business as usual.

Have you done before other initiatives like this one?
Ours is a very dynamic job. That’s why we allow all our staff to have whichever top of the range headset they like, so they are comfortable when on the phone, and when not on the phone can listen to high quality music if they like. We also have 39” flat screen TVs in every room connected to Chromecasts, this enables us to display the latest offers available for our sales staff, use them for snap powerpoint presentations, or even just display nice interchangeable background pictures to brighten up the office.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The sustainable and quake proof school by Mario Cucinella.

Sustainability, safety of the space, architecture and pedagogy: these are the main elements of the new nursery school in Guastalla, Reggio Emilia (Italy), designed by the firm Mario Cucinella Architects. The structure, made in Rubner Holzabu wood, was built using natural or recycled environmentally-friendly materials.

An innovative nursery school, especially designed for kids and teachers, sustainable, welcoming and safe: the new Nido d’Infanzia in Guastalla is part of the reconstruction plan of the area, replacing the previous two schools damaged in the earthquake of May 2012.
A part from the foundation in reinforced concrete, the carring skeleton structure is made in laminated wood, capable to guarantee the maximum of safety even in case of earthquakes.
The vertical wooden elements take after the tree lines and the field all around and makes the structure lighter, changing the image that we have of schools as a compact and monolithic kind of building. The design’s drivers were the use of natural light and the interaction between the interior and the exterior.
The high insulation, the ideal disposition of transparent surfaces, the innovative system of rainwater harvesting and the photovoltaic system allow to substantially reduce the use of mechanical plants and to gain the class A certification in matter of energy consumption.
“Designing environments for younger children can be a chance to think about the role of architecture as an educational instrument”, Mario Cucinella said. “Space can influence the behaviour of kids that grow up in a welcoming, stimulating and comfortable environment. That will make them more conscious adults”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Rendering by Cristian Chierici.

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“Senza Pericolo”: BTicino sponsor at Triennale.

This exhibition, edited by Federico Bucci (Triennale Milan May 3rd– September 1st 2013) , focuses on the theme of safety in the building sector. Several safety solutions developed by BTicino will be on display as part of the exhibition designed by Alessandro e Francesco Mendini. This exhibition aims to put on stage the link between the building sector and the related safety issues. The exhibition revolves around this “core theme”, proposing a series of in-depth theme itineraries. BTicino, which has always focused on the constant search for cutting-edge technological solutions, has supplied the CCTV system for the panoptic free-standing board designed by architect Mendini.