Last Updated on 19 August 2017

My original plans for an Idea Sandbox location included a place in Seattle for people to come to brainstorm… A Disneyland for creative thinking… a three-roomed brainstorming theme park.

You could book themed rooms… a mad inventor’s lab (complete with bubbling chemistry set), a Tiki themed room, and a more formal library featuring portraits and photos of great inventors like Peter Hodgson and Richard James. I modified my plans (and here) when a large brainstorming space opened locally last spring.

My muscle for creative-space planning hasn’t gone un-flexed, though… I’m proud to share with you, [insert drum roll here] the CreativityLab.

Located in Starbucks Coffee Company’s headquarters (Seattle Support Center) in Seattle, this once drab conference room, filled with corporate-stock chairs and boardroom style table, is now a 336 square foot haven for brainstorming, problem-solving and thinking. The room can hold up to 15 people comfortably – and all the ideas anyone can think of.

My theory is that you need the right people, places and things to problem solve. Space to brainstorm is part of the ‘places.’ You need a conducive space. I argue… the more creative and imaginative the space… the more creative and imaginative the ideas…

I’ll give you a guided tour of the room.

As you board, lower your head and watch your step. Please slide all the way over, filling in all the space and making room for others… as we have a full house today.Welcome aboard! My name is Paul and I’ll be your host as we journey through the CreativityLab!

For the courtesy of those around you, I please ask that their be no eating, drinking, smoking or the use of flash photography during this tour. Thank you. Finally for your safety, please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

And now, Idea Sandbox proudly presents… The CreativityLab…

These pictures and arranged as if you were standing in the center turning clockwise… this is what you’d see… The description is below each picture.

CreativityLab Figure 1

We are facing north. The shelves house a marketing and creativity library. The wall colors? They’re Sponge Bob Squarepants colors! The left wall is Tiki Green; the blue is Bikini Bottom Blue; the right-hand wall is Spongy Yellow. (Lowe’s carries these paints as part of their Nickelodeon collection).

Most of this room features IKEA furniture. I wanted furniture with clean lines and brighter colors but didn’t want to be too spendy.

The rug pieces are cool… hard to see in the pictures, but each piece is about 24″ x 36″ and can be arranged in nearly any configuration and is designed, so the lines meet and match…

CreativityLab Figure 2

This TV cabinet houses a CD/DVD/VHS player and 5-speaker surround sound system. Ideal for watching media clips, commercials and for popcorn and a movie! The room is also stocked with great CDs to use as background music. (Not rocket science, but all the necessary tools).

The room layout is designed to be very flexible and movable… (another benefit of IKEA is that their furniture is relatively lightweight). Right now the room is set with the two sofas facing each other. But the room can be arranged that the sofas are back-to-back and have teams each doing work on opposite white boards.

CreativityLab Figure 5

The white cabinet in the back left is to hold clippings and articles about all sorts of topics including creativity, problem solving and strategy. Additionally, I’ve developed a Creativity Curriculum for the team to follow that starts with basic creative stretching tools and helps coax creative and problem-solving abilities out of the team.

We’re now facing south. You enter the room on the right.

CreativityLab Figure 6

The other two white boards are mobile and can be flipped over to write on the other side. This white board is mounted and can double as a projector screen for the LCD projector. This one is magnetic which allows artwork and items to be posted to it.

That’s a small college fridge filled with – what else – creative juices. It’s got bottled Frappuccino, fruit juices, RedBull and bottled water.

CreativityLab Figure 7

We’re back where we started…

Below is my original floor plan/design… If you’re curious, you can download the full PDF.


The room is consistently booked! I had them set up a schedule to have open hours from 8 am until 10 am every day… That way folks can grab a cup of coffee and hang out while they get their day planned. From 10 am on… it’s booked the space for creative and inspired meetings… It’s not meant just to be another space for a typical meeting. We were looking at a much larger space, but it was decided to test a smaller location before build-out costs were incurred for a huge spot… So this space was a test… And it’s been a great success!

If you’re interested in designing a space within your offices as a creative retreat, drop me a note… I’ll be happy to help you out.