Workshop. Research lab. Fab lab. Impact lab. Incubator. Maker space. Innovation hub.
Whatever your organization calls it, dedicated in-house R&D spaces are increasingly popular as a way to introduce new thinking to every industry. As TEECOM developed our research space, we looked to several successful labs for inspiration. Here are the lessons we learned:
1. Optimize for flexibility.
Innovation thrives in a hackable space. For an R&D lab, fancy finishes just inhibit the work that needs to be done. Take a hint from the Manhattan workshop of filmmaker Casey Neistat, in which desks are built of plywood and parts are stored in red tool boxes labeled with black Sharpie.
2. Make tools easily accessible.
When you’re working on a project, you don’t want to have to dig for the essential tools. Cultivating the organized chaos necessary for true creativity means keeping the devices you need at hand. Tools can become a design element in and of themselves, as in architect Renzo Piano’s Paris design lab, where model-making equipment lines the walls.
3. Be open.
Although some of the work you’re doing may be confidential, the ability to share what you’re working on can spur new ideas and partnerships. To the extent you can, encourage visits and openness, host hackathons and sandbox sessions, and establish a walk-in policy for your organization’s employees. This can be reflected in your lab design. For example, Stanford University’s d.school has a garage door that opens the lab directly up to the campus, symbolizing openness. That’s why we integrated a garage door into the design for TEECOM’s Research Lab.
Innovation is a mindset, not a space. Having a physical environment, however, can focus projects and reinforce the connection with your organization’s business function. We’re excited about sharing the projects that are in the works at TEECOMlabs in the coming months.