Ideas for Idea Sandbox: The Place

“The right place for the left brain.”

If you were to order up your most perfect space for meetings, brainstorming and strategy sessions… what would it include? More whiteboards? Natural lighting? Better food?

Well, I’m planning to open this very dream space within the next 12 to 18 months and would love your expert advice in crafting the space.

The nuggets I’ve outlined below begin to capture my thoughts about developing “the most conducive space on the planet” for brainstorming and creative problem solving.

Please add any additional comments below, and I will look to incorporate them.

Thank you for your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. This is gonna be fun!


My Approach & Philosophy

Disneyland for the mind. In the same way a Disney themepark is designed specifically to create theater, entertainment and fantasy, Idea Sandbox will be designed to make the development of ideas and the process of problem solving as conducive as possible. And the experience will be just as memorable as a visit to a themepark.

Handcrafted. The same way themeparks are a destination for family fun, Idea Sandbox will be a destination for creative problem solving… the most conducive space in the world for brainstorming, problem solving, and strategy building. Idea Sandbox helps you think/create your best.

At minimum, ideas need to be half-baked. I don’t want clients to leave with only raw ideas… I want the ideas to be actionable. At minimum we’ll filter our day’s worth of ideas down to the fewer, bigger, better… The more refined the ideas are, the closer they’ll be to being put to use. There’s nothing worse than flip chart pages of ideas rolled-up under someone’s desk.

Think smarter, not harder. I want to use brain power only for the necessary parts of the process.

If we were coming up with a name for your new energy drink, instead of sitting around trying to drum-up words that mean ‘energy,’ we’ll use an online thesaurus to give us the full list. Let technology do the mundane.

Conversely, there are certain things computers can’t do for us. We’ll save our brain energy for synthesizing, interpreting, and making practical our new ideas. Work our brains when they’re needed the most.

Depart Equipped. Great ideas are often big ideas, and big ideas scare people. What starts as a tall tree gets whittled down to a toothpick… barely recognizable, and all the bark stripped away. I want to provide clients with a tips and take-aways on how to manage the new ideas through to implementation. (Seth Godin offers great advice in Free Prize Inside on how to be a champion.


  1. Match the client problem, style, and needs with the right combination of tools. The extensive library of content allows sessions to be customized for each client… from starting ice breaker through the end of the problem solving process.
  2. Guests/Clients have the option to use the room and technology “as is” or can hire facilitation services. The sessions that I facilitate will use additional technology and pre-choreographed activities… meaning… I will use the big screen to present… I will have prepared share the agenda, the template for the ice breaker, the exercises for the sessions, the ranking exercises… will all be pre-customized and pre-loaded for a smooth, professional and efficient session. Facilitated sessions will be produced, not just presented. (I plan to use theater style controls also help cue lights and music). Thoughtful, thought-through and professional, not not ‘slick.’
  3. Rapid transition from “spoken idea” to captured. Make ideas usable as quickly as possible.


Clean. Inspiring. Bright. Clean. Warm. Friendly. Comfortable. Playful. Purposeful. Remarkable.


  1. SIGHT
    • The right colored paint. Color affects mood. Orange helps creativity, yellow is also a stimulating color.
    • the right visual stimuli (images selected specifically to help solve the problem at hand)
    • plan to employ theater style lighting schemes which allow complete control of intensity, color, and ambiance. (Will NOT rely on typical florescent lighting fixtures… in fact… we won’t use ANY florescent lamps).
  2. TOUCH
    • kinetic toys – research says having stuff to fidget with helps your brain process better
    • comfortable, flexible, practical seating
  3. SOUND
    • surround sound to envelope group in sound (ocean waves, stimulating music, etc).
    • programmed, sound track for brainstorming (support thinking time with quiet music, use upbeat music to rouse group during lulls and breaks
  4. TASTE
    • energize with Food For Thought and refresh with Creative Juices
    • Creative Juices – Juice & Energy Bar
    • Food For Thought – Power & Brain Foods selected for their natural energy stimulation. The goal is to avoid the typical high-sugar sweets: Skittles, M&Ms, Red Vines that cause a short-term sugar high, but then followed with a crash.
  5. SCENT
    • aromatherapy diffusers providing essential oils that spark creativity, energy, etc. (I know… it may sound hokey, but if there’s a method to help us lean in a direction, I want to explore it.


  1. sound proof
  2. paper shredder for privacy
  3. encrypt office data / computer data


  • 1 x large room to accommodate up to 35-40 people
  • 2 x medium sized room(s) for groups up to 20 people in size
  • loads of natural light
  • big windows
  • sky lights / sun tunnels
  • sound proof so neighboring groups can’t hear our ideas (privacy), nor be disturbed if we’re loud (victory yelps).
  • complete control over temperature (hot/cold) and air circulation
  • plenty of spacious seating / no crowding
  • make setting like sitting around a campfire vs. sitting in a board room (inspired by Practical Imagination Enterprises)
  • comfortable chairs
  • accommodate break out areas for smaller group work
  • flexible work areas / table tops (trapezoid) that can be put together in rounds, in a square, u-shape… whatever is appropriate for the group
  • Not too slick. But equipped. Technology should make brainstorming easier and more fluid, not get in the way or be a big production.


  • magic wall” touch-screen technology (my secret weapon)
  • it almost goes without saying… but I’ll have flip charts, Post-It notes, markers, dry erase, white boards, LCD projector, DVD player, pens/pencils, pads…
  • ability to connect with outsiders virtually (video conference)
  • surfaces for posting ideas (traditional cork or magnet boards)
  • surfaces for capturing ideas (white boards), but also explore technology that allows information capture without necessarily having to manually re-type information (efficient capture of ideas)
  • mic/audio system (if size requires)


  • Restrooms large enough to accommodate breaks without causing un-due waiting


  • off-set carbon use / plant trees / monitor paper usage
  • solar power
  • is it at all possible to get ‘off the grid?’

Competition & Bar Setters

Images of places that inspire me. These are what I want Idea Sandbox to feel like. Remarkable.

The Disney Company

Inventionland (Pittsburgh)

I *just* discovered this place, and it BLOWS me away!

Eureka Ranch

Library of Imagination

The Apartment (NYC)

Google Offices (Zurich)

JWT Offices (Clive Wilkinson, Architect)


Thinkubator (Chicago)

Disney Store HQ

Catalyst Ranch (Chicago)

Strategy Loft (Denver)

updated 29 Jan 09