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Failure Is an Option

I was inspired today to do a little digging on innovative spaces by the announcement that Event Camp has chosen the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago for its annual meeting in 2011.

Shaping Space: The’s Environments Collaborative from Stanford on Vimeo.

The only word to describe the Catalyst Ranch is funky — it’s filled with toys and cushions, and decorated with artifacts from 35 different countries. If you want, you can swing in a hammock. Not a safe choice, but, it seems to me, a fitting one for Event Camp, a grassroots gathering of event professionals, which is making a name for itself as a testbed for meeting design. (Read about it here.) Great example: at Event Camp Twin Cities, scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9, organizers will experiment with trading in rows of chairs for balls. And who knows what Event Camp East Coast, scheduled Nov. 12-13 in Philadelphia, has up its sleeve. (The dates were just announced on the #eventsprofs Twitter group this week, with details to come.)

My search for insight about the role of space in innovation led me to a comment that surprised me, particularly coming from Scott Witthoft, co-director of the Stanford’s Environments Collaborative, which designed the space. The new center opened this spring after five years of research and planning.

People ask Witthoft all the time how to make their spaces more innovative, he said. “I think people look to space to solve problems of innovation that are outside of space … Sometimes you have to suck it up and try something you haven’t done before and be willing to fail.”

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.