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Are clean minimalist office designs actually stifling innovation? Famed organizational guru Barbara Hemphill said, “Clutter is nothing more than deferred decisions.” But Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota, discovered that messiness may actually assist the creative process. She found that people who were seated in a tidy, orderly room made very conventional choices, while people seated in a messy room tended to make novel, innovative choices. She theorized that orderliness subtly conveys approval of safe, tidy thinking. Messiness, however, encourages people to think outside the box.

This has implications for the workplace, as Vohs points out in a New York Times article: The minimalist modern designs and shared workspaces common in today’s office interiors don’t really encourage messiness. Yet those designs are the ones most favored by creative professions such as IT and advertising. Are modern office designs actually suppressing creativity? What’s your opinion?

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