Big ideas are born in small spaces

a Back in school, we won’t stop bumping into each other. In any case, this is what the engineers responsible for the office reorganization want. The company’s management asked them two questions: How many square meters can we earn at the company’s headquarters by organizing remote work? What encourages innovation among employees?

In each case, it means a little more emphasis, which, paradoxically, does not go in the direction of health recommendations. At PayPal, we’ve given up the floor. In Kiabi to expand projects. But by bringing about a shrinkage in offices and assembling workstations, the pandemic may well have given birth to the trophy of architects for years: creative collisions.

In search of what we are not looking for

“In one day in the office, 75 The percentage of information is captured informally”, Remember Alexandra Couric, Founding President of Archimage. In Walter Isaacson’s Biography of Steve Jobs (Lattis, 2011), Pixar partner John Lasseter describes the layout of their office. If a building discourages unplanned confrontations, Jobs told him, “You will lose a lot of innovation and the magical spark to chance,” The art of discovering what you are not looking for.

So Pixar was designed so that people need to pass through the central lobby, where cafes and meeting rooms have been set up. Jobs went so far as to decree that there should be only two restrooms in the building, for each gender, attached to the foyer, Lasseter says. (…) It worked, and I bumped into people I hadn’t seen in months. »

Read also John Lasseter, CEO of Pixar: “An animation studio is not a studio like the others”

If the idea is regularly attributed to Steve Jobs, like all those we want to associate with a patented vision, then for more than half a century architects and anthropologists have sought to theorize the conditions for an episodic and creative encounter. As early as 1950, Mervin Kelly, CEO of Bell Labs, explained that if his company could invent the transistor and a thousand other things, it was because everyone—chemists, mathematicians, and engineers—worked under one roof. The corridors of the Murray Hill, NJ building were long enough that on the way to the canteen, we were sure to meet colleagues with whom we would invent the photovoltaic or whatever was invented in going to the canteen.

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