Calculating serendipity: how design can enable spontaneous interaction between people

November 8, 2021

Amazing things happen when people transcend hierarchies and even their own corporate identity when sharing space, and experiences.

Though it’s nearly impossible to design the output of interactions its definitely not impossible to design the opportunity for interaction at workplaces. In fact, this is something we’ve gotten rather good at here at StartWell.

All you have to do is consider moments through the day which people can share doing something common to them.

Here is an example of something we’ve done on campus and how it works:

The Library StartWell maintains a lending library of books and periodicals which are curated by staff within the themes of ‘Business’ and ‘Design Thinking.’

Books and Magazines are shelved on either side of a room positioned in between our call booths and across a bank of hot desks, just past our reception/cafe and en route to the washrooms on our retail floor. Its a high traffic area yet we’ve lit the collection with focused spots on the shelves and furnished the room with a common table and soft benches (lit from above with a pendant.)

Effectively the Library at StartWell is a reading room where someone can take a break from their work to flip through a magazine or peruse books they might want to borrow. Because the common table can seat 6 people the room encourages ad hoc gatherings and the atmosphere in the room promotes intimacy – because people’s purpose for being in the room is focused on learning we find that great conversations get started there (about things they’ve read, or whats being reported on in magazines) which can give people deep insight into who their coworkers are.