Creativity Syntax: An Emerging Concept for Creativity in the Workspace

By Alison Williams.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The impact of the physical environment on people’s ability to be maximally creative at work is a research area which has been largely neglected.
Creativity in the workplace has been the subject of intensive research for over half a century investigating the four ‘P’s of creativity: the creative person, the creative product, the creative process, and the creative ‘press’ or environment. Considerable work has also been done on managing creativity and innovation in the workplace. The fourth ‘P’ or ‘press’ has, however, been predominantly seen in terms of the social environment, and researchers have stepped away from or minimised the effect that the physical environment or press may have on people’s creativity and ability to innovate.
This paper presents preliminary findings and theories about physical press and its impact on creativity in the workplace, and suggests a reason for and an approach to researchers’ reluctance to examine this whole area. This leads to an argument for an emerging concept of a creativity syntax which identifies and codifies the elements of the physical press which afford creativity in the workplace.

Keywords: Creativity, Physical Environment, Physical Press, Physical Determinism, Creativity Syntax

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp.193-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.317MB).

Alison Williams

Tutor and Honorary Lecturer in Creativity, Strathclyde Business School, SMARTlab, University of East London, London, Crieff, UK

Alison Williams is a tutor and Honorary Lecturer in Creativity at Strathclyde University, and is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of East London, investigating the effect of physical space on people’s ability to be maximally creative. From this work the concept of creativity syntax is emerging. She continues to consult on practical applications of creativity in a wide range of organisations, including the design and build of a commercial Creative Thinking Space in the north of England.


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