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December 17
Top 5 Moments of 2013: Number 3

​Number 3: Inspired conversations about fostering innovation in workplaces

 Milliken's Barbara Haaksma shares insight into the process of innovation at Milliken.

We know that good design can faciliate innovation, creativity and productivity in workplaces around the world - and we are thrilled when we can share our ideas on fostering innovation with the global A&D community.

At the end of November, Barbara Haaksma, vice president of design and marketing for Milliken's global floor covering division, was able to do so at the Innovation and the Workplace Roundtable in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sponsored by Milliken, Steelcase and our regional partners, the event featured panelist that proivded a myriad of design knowledge. Guillaume Alvarez, senior vice president of Steelcase, Dudy Bar-Tal, facility manager at Google Tel Aviv headquarters, PR. Omer Kotzer, professor at the Bezalel Art University​, and PR. Dov Yanai, president of Genesis, spoke on how to foster innovation through mutliple aspects of the work environment. Barbara Haaksma spoke on the process of innovation, sharing Milliken's insight on using purposefully deigned materials as a way to encourage innovation for employees.

 Rountable panelists along with Catherine Gall, workspace future director at Steelcase, who facilitated the discussion.

Major topics and takeaways from the discussion provided a comprehensive view of innovation in a work setting, including the process of innovation, skills required to excel at inovation and staging the experience for employees.

​The process of innovation ​

When designing spaces to foster innovation, think about and understand what the end-user needs and wants in that space. The questions to design around are: 

    • ​What is the user experience?
    • What does the owner of the space want to deliver?
    • How can we design spaces that help facilitate the cultural changes and/or growth that companies are trying to accomplish?

As a prime example, Milliken designed custom floor covering for Arizona State University (ASU) that brings to life a satellite image of meteor impact craters in space. The end result helps ingnite interest and communicate a message to students, staff and visitors that ASU is committed to space and space exploration. To view the case study featuring this project, click here.

Behaviors and skills required to excel at innovation

There are implications of recruiting people and faciliating specific behaviors and skill from employees. These factors can alter an office environment, changing the culture and output from the business. Instilling behaviors in a workplace that allow creativity to flow easier can greatly increase innovation.

Staging the experience

Create forums in workspaces that invite employees and users to make the space their own. Provide a space that makes coming to work enjoyable every day. Innovation is a social activity, so create a physical space to do so. 

Dudy Bar-Tal of Google mentioned the need to have playful games, such as a Nintendo, available for use in Google offices. Contray to intuition, the games do not hinder productivity at Google. Although they aren't used often, knowing that the gaming station is available to employees makes work more relaxed, enjoyable and as a result, innovative. 

 More than 150 architects and designers in Tel Aviv gathered for the event. 

How do you foster innovation in both your workplace and the office interiors you create? We look forward to continuing this conversation with you.