The Connectory Story: Designing Spaces to Inspire Creativity

The Connectory Story: Designing Spaces to Inspire Creativity 

Physical workspaces can have a profound effect on the way people behave and interact with each other. Variations of colours, textures and different kinds of light have been shown to positively influence productivity, creativity and collaborative problem solving. 

When ide Group moved into The Connectory, it was important the space reflected the innovative heart of the company. The team wanted a workspace that inspired curiosity and reinforced a culture of embracing complexity. However transforming The Connectory from a blank canvas into a creative oasis was not an easy task.

ide Connect spoke with ide Group Product Developer, Nancy Malik Stevens to dig deeper into the design process behind the visual acoustic backdrop adorning The Connectory’s walls. As Nancy explains, finding the right balance between functionality and aesthetics was a tricky challenge that required careful thought.


ide Connect: What was the design problem you were addressing?

Nancy Malik Stevens: When we first moved into The Connectory there were a number of rooms that were experiencing acoustic problems. We wanted a solution that would fix the problem but would also be visually attractive. 

When we first started investigating, a lot of the designs were too rudimentary for the space that we had. They did the job on a technical level, but fell short aesthetically. Once we realised this, we looked at using a pattern of small hexagon shaped tiles. Because they were so small we thought it was just going to be a matter of arranging them in a way that was visually stimulating. However when we tested them in the space, they didn't work at all. 

IC: How did you approach the problem after the first idea was unsuccessful?

NMS: After the initial test we realised the problem was more complex than we thought. We decided to gather more technical data and invited a sound engineer to assess the space. 

The sound engineer was able to tell us exactly which surfaces needed application of acoustic product. Having this new information gave us an outline of the constraints for each space. The design brief immediately became a lot clearer and allowed us to calculate the size and position of acoustic product that would have the most positive impact.


IC: Did the new constraints affect the visual design of the panels?

NMS: The new material came in big rectangular panels. After working with the hexagon shaped tiles it took some exploration to find creative ways to approach the new material.

The new panels needed professional installation so it was important the design was translatable across different teams. Everything needed to be clear and easy to understand for all of the stakeholders involved. 

To address this, we decided to design a system based on one cutting pattern. We used the cutting pattern to split each rectangle into six triangles. Each triangle was then numbered and rearranged. Some boards were also flipped to create different patterns and shapes.


IC: What were some of the design considerations?

NMS: There were a lot of things I needed to take into consideration but one of the biggest ones for me was colour. 

I knew the panels would be taking up a lot of space on the white walls so it was important the colour didn’t crowd the space. The boards are also 50mm thick so they would be sticking out from the walls and potentially encroaching on space. I was careful not to pick anything too dark or loud. I wanted to brighten but not weigh down the feeling of space.

I also needed to take into consideration the shape of the panels. As I was designing, the shapes would often take on a personality of their own and sometimes form familiar shapes. However it was important to me that the design was not divisive in that sense. People do get feelings from certain shapes and I had to consider the way they influenced the feeling within the space.

IC: Where there any challenges along the way?

NMS: Since there were five rooms and each had a different puzzle of shapes, the biggest challenge was finding a consistent way to communicate details across different teams and functions. Another big challenge was making sure these technical challenges didn’t compromise what was possible creatively by way of aesthetics.

As a designer I believe the space that you are in should reflect a curiosity and hunger for something different. It should be carefully designed with points of interest and enough space to give you clarity. If we want to stimulate openness, creativity and exploration, the environment has to allow for that.

Instead of coming up with something generic, we wanted to create something that reflected our design values - that we’re not going to shy away from difficult challenges. 

Erin Evanochko