My job as writer-and-editor shifts from internally creative (I work inside my head) to actively collaborative (talk with the writers who work for me, learn what my clients want). I work with people all over the world from the comfort of my home office, and I depend on the wonderfulness of instant messaging, shared online storage, and e-mail. I prefer my quietly creative cocoon in which to do my thinking and lure the muse (Here kitty kitty... Well, the muse doesn't come when I call either). Yet, I'm inherently an extrovert. I love to go into create-mode with other people, so every time I've had the opportunity to visit the Home Office (for clients or employers, as the case may be) I actively notice how well their space is designed. How much does the office encourage people to work together? How does it help people to focus when they need to work alone?
As a result, when I saw Make Space on my list of Amazon Vine options, I was attracted to its premise: "an inspiring guidebook filled with ways to alter space to fuel creative work and foster collaboration." I love its goal. Its execution... not so much.
The book comes from the "d school" at Stanford University, and perhaps that academic background colors the way they think of colloborative space. The book has a few sorts of information: tools (stuff to build), situations (such as easy-to-reorganize spaces... think "use beanbag chairs draw people into a circle"), case studies. A section on the "design template" identifies the elements that go into a shared place, what they call "breaking down this spatial grammar into manageable bits" such as the actions that will take place there, the importance of thresholds and transitions, the need for everyone to have a "home base."
The best part of the book are the tools: do-it-yourself inexpensive projects to create reusable objects that a team can use and move around. A "flip stool" can be flipped from an upright perch to a low bench. You're encouraged to create whiteboard sliders using dry-erase boards mounted on a trolley to instantly create partitions. Create a defined space (such as "where to keep everyone's bikes") using carpet tile or tape.
Some of the "situations" advice is useful food-for-thought, such as "The more flexible a space is, the more some things need to stay fixed. It is especially important to keep community tools (copiers, shared computers) and amenities (food, supplies) in prominent and fixed locations." But don't expect any advice about where to put the server room; there's not much for the geeks who have to think about wiring diagrams.
The authors like big cavernous rooms, I think, which are divided into smaller units... while I truly and passionately hate anything that looks like a cube farm. Maybe it's the effect of the startup communities near Stanford, but most of the designs shown are loft-like with moveable walls of one kind or another. There are a lot of hard edges; if they had a suggestion to hang quilts or other homey stuff in a conference area to relax people, I didn't see it.
In short: I didn't see a single space that appealed to me. (Please, just surround me with books. That's what inspires me, and it offers sound deadening as well.)
In case you couldn't tell by now, I didn't find this book especially inspirational. And I had to subtract an entire star for its oh-so-artsy layout, fonts, and colors which make the text almost wholly unreadable. White and black text on a dark blue or fuchsia background? Sheesh. I didn't like the flow of the book, either. At first I gave it the benefit of the doubt because, I thought, it's meant to be read in short inspirational bursts. But there's no narrative, no entry point or path for me as a creative designer.
But I'm not sure if my advice is useful to you. Maybe my opinion is affected by my preference for my solo writer-cave and my conscious preference to interact with people primarily in TCP/IP packets. But for myself... this book is <shrug> okay. I hoped for more.