Design Business

How to Increase Creativity and Innovation in Your Interior Design Team

Among all of the skills needed to tackle interior design, creativity is at the top. However, it’s common to get stuck in a rut where you no longer produce inspired, expressive, or original designs. Instead, you end up repeating the same type of designs. Your designs may be safe and in demand, but there’s a danger that one day, your go-to designs will become dated. Innovation in Interior Design is key.

This is the reason why business visionary Peter Drucker once famously said, “Innovate or die.” Without a steady stream of fresh ideas, your design firm may no longer remain competitive.

To stay successful and innovative, it’s necessary to adopt a creative mindset. 

In the article, 6 Ways to Inspire Creativity in the Workplace, Rise shares this about workplace innovation, “By prioritizing the value of challenging the status quo (the way things have traditionally been done), you allow your employees to present unique solutions that could help you cut costs, improve client or customer retention or even create new streams of revenue. You also unlock new opportunities for business innovation and growth within your organization.”

In this article, we’ll explore how to discover new ideas and push your firm forward through the power of collaborative, creative teamwork.  

Innovation in Your Interior Design Team

Warm Up Your Team

Begin each collaborative work session with a series of warm-up exercises. The goal of these exercises is to build psychological safety. This gives your team members permission to share ideas. They also activate the critical thinking part of the brain. There are several warm-up exercises you can do, such as:

Draw 30 Circles

Each team member draws 30 circles. Then, they have 3 minutes to transform those circles into real objects, such as donuts, oranges, or basketballs. The idea here is to prompt the team to think creatively and quickly.

Color Memories

Supply crayons or colored pencils and choose one color. Then, they must draw objects that represent that color. This helps build a bridge to one’s memory.

Draw Blind

Hand out a pencil and a paper and ask your team to draw images of the world around them without actually looking at the paper. The goal is to increase their observation skills.  

Set Goals

Meeting just for the sake of meeting can be a drain on one’s creativity. Meet with a mission. When you start a collaborative session, set goals that you’d like to accomplish by the end of your meeting, and don’t be afraid if that changes. 

Take Off the Limits

It’s likely that everyone on your staff is highly creative. However, not everyone may feel comfortable sharing their ideas out loud. Your team members may fear that their bright new idea will be immediately rejected with a response like, “That’s not going to happen.” During your creative sessions, open the floor to all ideas. Instead of stopping an idea in its infancy, explore it to see if it can be workshopped into a better version that solves your design dilemma.

Deeply Understand Your Client

In order to solve design problems with fresh ideas, it’s important to understand your client as much as possible. Aim to know their pain points and what they’re looking for in a design. It’s also important to know what your client may not already know. 

Perhaps an organization has come to you with the need to design collaborative spaces to inspire their stressed-out team. What they may not know is that they’re truly after a design that restores the human spirit and can benefit from biophilic design.

If you’re focused on a specific client during your collaborative sessions, ask your team questions about the client, such as:

  • If budget wasn’t a concern, what would be the ultimate solution to this client’s needs?
  • What are other design examples that we can reference that solve a similar question?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this potential design?

These questions can prod your team to think creatively about the client’s problem. 

Encourage Rapid Brainstorming

Instead of turning your entire collaborative meeting into a super-sized brainstorming session, consider the bite-sized approach. You can challenge your team to solve a problem in the span of three to five minutes. The ideas will be unrefined but can point you in the right direction. 

Promote Open Discussions

Start an open discussion with your team members. In the webinar, How to Nurture Your Team’s Creative Confidence, James Walker, the Associate Creative Director for YETI, shares, “Often what I’m doing is creating a very open environment where discussions are to be had that are risky, that I participate in, that I encourage, that I add to. I bring in my own ideas as fire starters. No matter how ridiculous. Sometimes that’s the thing that triggers a really great idea.”

You can do something similar with your team. Instead of positioning it as a task on a checklist, start a conversation about a design dilemma.

Innovation in Your Interior Design Team

Think Wide Not Deep

Instead of trying to think deeply about an issue, challenge your team to think broadly about a wide range of related issues. This can inadvertently solve several issues at the same time. 

Defend Your Ideas

We’re all familiar with the idea that there’s no stupid question. Let’s also extend that to there’s no stupid idea. However, to prove its validity, your team member should be able to defend it. Add that as the only requirement for stating ideas. If they want to try a new process, style, or design, they must be willing to defend why it’s a good idea. 

Create Diverse Work Groups

Diversity is the secret to innovation. People who think differently are an asset to your team. Consider grouping together people with unique perspectives. They can present challenging ideas and extract the best out of one another.

Create Prototypes

Cybelle Jones, CEO of Society of Experiential Graphic Design, shares in this webinar the benefits of prototyping and how to put aside inhibitions as a design team and come up with the best answers. “What I love to do is a rapid prototype… and say we’re going to produce 20 schemes in a half an hour… ‘We’re rapid fire putting ideas out so your brain can’t question you or challenge, is that a good idea or bad idea?’”

The takeaway? Gather together to create rapid prototypes of the ideas that came from your bite-sized brainstorming sessions. 

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

It’s easy to over-think a problem. This prevents your ability to move forward in a confident way. The best option to avoid analysis paralysis is to adopt the ever-testing mindset. Try different ideas and see what works. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve learned something that you can take into your next project.

Look for Ways to Continuously Improve

When a company like Apple, Microsoft, or Nintendo releases a product, they don’t continue to re-create the same product. Immediately, they move on to creating a new and better version of that same product.

You can adopt that same mindset in design. Your goal is to look for and exploit weaknesses in your current setup. Encourage your team to provide feedback continuously on your creative processes. Ask them what can be improved upon so that you can go into your next project stronger and wiser. 

Final Thoughts

At its core, creativity is about solving problems in a new way. By implementing the above strategies, you can ensure that your firm stays relevant and in demand.