How to Create a Creative Environment


Creative Environment, painting by Ingmar DrewingThis is a follow up-post to my trance-and-creativity-post and a collection of links to articles and papers about creativity that might be useful when designing a creative environment.

I always loved the night …

There is a study from 2013 by Steidle and Werth about the influence of light on creativity. The authors found that “dim illumination and priming darkness improve creative performance”. According to them that’s because “perceived freedom and creativity supportive processing start explain the effect”. So it might be a good idea to dim the light when you want to be creative. Wait a moment! Since it’s about the brightness perceived, there might be a market for creativity boosting sunglasses … hmmm …

Adding Noise to the Creative Environment

Most people prefer silence while concentrating. However, a study from 2012 by Mehta, Zhu and Cheema suggests that background noise with about 70 dB can positively influence creative performance. That’s about the noise level of a shower or a dishwasher.
There are already websites with background noise generation functionality for example The internet – you’ve got to love it ^^


One of the more peculiar findings is that your mode of breathing through the nose may play a role. It correlates with the current dominance of the left or right hemisphere of your brain. If you feel that you’re taking in more air through your left nostril, then your right hemisphere is currently dominant and vice versa.
One can find studies about this online, but I first encountered the phenomenon in the book “Über Träume, Trance und Kreatität” by Gerhard Schütz. According to him the dominance shifts naturally all 90 to 120 minutes over the course of one day. You can even switch the brain dominance through some kind of nostril breathing control.
Funny coincidence: the optimal duration for a creative session according to Cleese is also 90 minutes.

Psychological Distance

This point is more about the inner creative environment, or the mental model of the surrounding. An interesting finding from another study is that psychological distance and influences the creativity of The work results. In this Scientific American article a described experiment works roughly like this: Two groups get exactly the same task. One of the groups is being told that the institute they are working for is 2 miles away. In the other group the experimenters tell them the institute is 2000 miles away. The result was, that the 2000-mile-group performed better in terms of creativity.
Considering that I think it’s funny that Steven King speaks about his “far seeing space” when talking about his creative work place.

Other factors I would like to find research material about

Considering that your clothing influences your thinking and behaviour, I’d guess that clothing is a measurable influence factor on creative performance. But that’s only a hunch – if you have some solid research about this, let me know!


So the perfect environment for creative work is in the cellar with a candle, sufficient ambient noise and some inspirational images of the delta quadrant. I knew I did something right already …

Thanks for reading and live long and prosper!