Pixar director on using space to drive innovation

If you’ve seen Ratatouille or The Incredibles, then you’ve seen Brad Bird’s work at Pixar. Tech blog GigaOm highlighted an interview that Bird did with McKinsey consultants on how Pixar maintains an innovative culture. There’s a lot of valuable lessons and ideas pulled together here. But of particular note are Bird’s comments on Pixar’s space:

“If you walk around downstairs in the animation area, you’ll see that it is unhinged. People are allowed to create whatever front to their office they want. One guy might build a front that’s like a Western town. Someone else might do something that looks like Hawaii…John [Lasseter] believes that if you have a loose, free kind of atmosphere, it helps creativity.
Then there’s our building. Steve Jobs basically designed this building. In the center, he created this big atrium area, which seems initially like a waste of space. The reason he did it was that everybody goes off and works in their individual areas. People who work on software code are here, people who animate are there, and people who do designs are over there. Steve put the mailboxes, the meetings rooms, the cafeteria, and, most insidiously and brilliantly, the bathrooms in the center—which initially drove us crazy—so that you run into everybody during the course of a day. [Jobs] realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen. So he made it impossible for you not to run into the rest of the company.

Port-a-potties in the heart of the Next Newsroom? Probably not.

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