Pragmatics, Plasticity, and Permission: A Model for Creativity in Temporary Spaces

Deborah Maxwell, Alison Williams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The meaning of a space to its users is influenced by the users’ perception of that space and its potential to support – or otherwise – desired behaviours. This paper considers the case study of a three-day residential knowledge exchange event, exploring the meaning of the event’s physical environment for impact on participants’ creativity and design thinking. The event’s mixed group of academics, design professionals, and entrepreneurs were encouraged to think and respond creatively together on a thematic call (to which they responded in the application process) and were observed within the space. We examine how an unconventional workplace environment (a set of elaborately decorated Victorian hotel meeting rooms) influences a group who do not know each other beforehand, observing how participants appropriate the space, and make changes suitable to their needs. The authors (from polarised but privileged insider viewpoints of organiser-author and participant-author) present this through considering Pragmatics, Plasticity, and Permission and their dynamic interrelationships. These concepts develop into a new three-staged model comprising ‘Space As Is’, ‘Space As Anticipated’ and ‘Space As Used’, which describes how the interaction over time of space, its affordances and its users have the potential to expand creativity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference
Subtitle of host publicationDesign Management in an Era of Disruption
EditorsErik Bohemia, Alison Rieple, Jeanne Liedtka, Rachel Cooper
PublisherDesign Management Institute
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-615-99152-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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