Skip to content


The creative workspaces of world-famous visionaries

We all work in different ways but what makes a workspace ‘creative’? We’ve looked at world-famous visionaries, from Roald Dahl to Pablo Picasso, to see how their space provides them inspiration to produce their masterpieces.

Creative workspaces – what makes them so inspiring

Office design is not a new concept. Artistic visionaries throughout history have carved out bespoke workspaces that provide them with the inspiration they need to produce their masterpieces.

At Interaction, we believe an ideal workspace should encourage creativity, collaboration and innovation. So why not take inspiration from some of our greatest creators? As the legendary actor Powers Boothe said, “the joy of a creative environment, without any restrictions, is hard to leave.”

1. Jackson Pollock’s barn

Pollock’s studio was a barn on his Long Island property. The leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Pollock laid out his canvas on the floor to flick and spray paint across it from all angles, wanting to express “energy and motion made visible”. His paints and large brushes were kept on a moveable trolley to be easily at hand and, in time, his studio floor became covered in lines of paint. Now under the conservatorship of Stony Brook University, tours are given during the summer. Visitors can see the original barn floor, still covered in paint, transporting us back into the world of Jackson Pollock and providing a visual reminder of the artist in action.

Photo source:

2. Roald Dahl’s shed

Roald Dahl was famous for writing tales from his garden shed. Unlike our clean desk culture today, Dahl’s shed was covered in family photographs, fan letters and other knick-knacks to inspire his work. He specially chose a comfortable armchair with a footstool tied to the legs and a makeshift table to sit across his lap. In the winter he’d climb into a sleeping bag to keep himself warm. He would write for two hours in the morning and another two in the afternoon – but he wouldn’t necessarily start right away. He was known for procrastinating and even demonstrated some of his favourite procrastination techniques on TV in 1979.

Photo source:

3. Virginia Woolf’s lodge

Woolf’s “writing lodge”, as she called it, was a garden shed in the grounds of her Sussex house. Her desk was normally littered with stacks of papers and manuscripts. Her workspace was said to get so cold during winters that she would be unable to hold her pen, but it looked out across the Downs and Mount Caburn, a view she enjoyed endlessly.

Including aspects of nature within a workspace has been a key office design concept in recent years, helping to purify the air and instil a sense of calm.

Photo source: Albert Knapp, Alamy

4. Mark Twain’s billiards room

Mark Twain loved billiards. So much so he used his billiards room in his Connecticut home as his office. When editing his manuscript pages, he frequently fanned them out over the green baize and used the billiards balls as paperweights.

Seems like Mark Twain was onto something. Perhaps he inspired the trend for pool tables in offices, which provide a social area where co-workers can relax between projects.

Photo source: Jim Bourg, Reuters

5. Georgia O’Keeffe’s studio

O’Keeffe’s studio was based in her house in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Much tidier than a typical artist’s studio, her huge windows looked out over the garden and the cottonwood trees along the Chama river, which she would immortalise in her beautiful paintings.

While we might not all have a view like O’Keeffe’s in our offices, windows bring in natural daylight and enhance productivity and psychological wellbeing, according to research. In fact, a survey in the Harvard Business Review, showed that employees rated natural daylight and views to the outdoors as the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking all other perks.

Photo source: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

6. Pablo Picasso’s villa

Picasso created some of his most innovative pieces in his studio at his famous Cannes villa, ‘La Californie’. The expansive space accommodated many of his unfinished works which he could move between depending on his mood. In this large space he could create enormous works of art, including sculptures on folded metal sheets, folded paper and wooden models. While the estate has undergone many renovations under new ownership, the studio has been left untouched – where traces of Picasso’s paint can still be found on the walls.

Photo source: Mark Shaw, Villa La Californie, Cannes

7. Mark Zuckerberg’s… desk.

You may think that the founder of Facebook would have a private office. But no, Mark Zuckerberg is a fan of an open plan office which he believes enables better communication and collaboration among employees. Always accessible, he sits on the same floor as other Facebook employees with no partitions in sight. Maybe not one of our favourite creative spaces – but an undeniably important insight into the workplace mindset of one of the world’s most powerful men.

The open plan office certainly achieved ubiquity, but many studies show it might not provide the best work environment. Today, we’re fans of the broken plan office, where collaborative spaces sit alongside specific areas that facilitate concentrated work.

Photo source:

The Rise of Creative Spaces

While time on our own can be highly creative, we miss collaboration and team building – even more so with remote working. Over the past decade there has been a growing movement towards collaborative spaces where people can connect and engage with colleagues.

Frequent workspace design features include creative break-out spaces to encourage informal connections and enable people to relax before working on new ideas.

Some recent creative spaces that we’ve created for our clients include:

  • Rethink Group’s new breakout space which features a pool-table and comfortable furniture to help employees socialise and recharge.
  • An in-house show room at Wild & Wolf’s office to display their high-quality products and provide continuous inspiration for in-house designers
  • A multi-use space for Xledger to promote a culture where “most meetings are conversations”. Where better to have those conversations than in a space with a roof-top bar, putting green and all-weather outdoor TV?

We all work in different ways, so it follows that creating a workplace that suits our work patterns should be a top priority. At Interaction, we know that building the right workspaces to support your team in their creativity allows your budding O’Keeffe’s, Pollocks and possibly Zuckerbergs to thrive.

Find out how we do this here.

Did you like this? Watch our webinar on ‘Can Creativity Survive Remote Working’

Related Insights

We’re passionate about inspirational workspaces, so we’re committed to exploring and sharing the latest thinking on workplace design with you.