Spaces for Innovation: A Photo-elicitated Study in Three Companies from Manufacturing Industry and the Design Firm IDEO

By Jennie Schaeffer and Yvonne Eriksson.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 16, 2014 $US5.00

The possibility that the physical space can support or disturb processes for innovation in production systems is overlooked in the manufacturing industry and in research. This article rests on three studies in manufacturing industries and one in a design firm, with a focus on the employees' subjective experience of the physical space in relation to innovation. The employees made photographs and used keywords (followed up with verbal interviews) to communicate the relationship they perceived between physical space and innovation. The study shows that there is a relationship between company culture and the individual’s choices of physical spaces understood to support or hinder innovation. From the results, it can be concluded, that manufacturing companies which were studied form cultures that produce few spaces that support divergent thinking, while such spaces are prioritized in the design firm. This article recommends clean and orderly spaces for the manufacturing industry; informal, collaborative, and visually simulative for the design company.

Keywords: Innovation Design, Physical Spaces

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 7, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.49-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 16, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 766.604KB)).

Jennie Schaeffer

Lecturer and PhD Student, Design and Visualisation, School of Innovation, Design, and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Jennie Andersson Schaeffer teaches in information design and spatial design in the department of innovation, design, and technology at Mälardalen University. Currently she is finishing up her PhD thesis, "Spaces for Innovation." 
She is interested in how design methods can be used in research.

Prof. Yvonne Eriksson

Professor, Design and Visualization, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Yvonne Eriksson is a professor in information design. She is in charge of the group Design and Visualization. The main interest for her research is visual communication— especially the perceptual and cognitive processes that are involved in interpretation of visuals and built milieus. One focus area for her research is gender issues in relation to visual studies and design.