Moving from Space to Place

Most of the time when we think of redesigning our physical environments to be Experienced-based, we think of it on a grand scale.  We ask “How can we have our facilities be wonderful, anticipated, rich Experiences for our customers?” Or “How can the architecture be redesigned so our people will know they are stepping into a new world as they enter into work?” No doubt these are important questions to ask if we are to build a uniquely special, physical environment wrapped in Story Structure … a true transformation of place, culture, and Experience. Surely, the Golden Gate Bridge, Whole Foods, and Disneyland are all wonderful examples of this grand scale thinking. What we run the risk of, however, is to forget the importance of the small scale – the work spaces where we spend the majority of our time.

If we are to live and work in Experience, we must take a bold new way of creating our work spaces so they become places of vibrancy. We must take a step into the world of Experience Design that envisions authentic, inventive and meaning-full environments and begin right where we are.  Take a look at these photos.


This is Gary’s office, Starizon Studio’s Chief Experience Officer.  His office is one part dream, one part magic, one part intention, and one part emotion. When you view this area from up close, you start to see the Story Structure of a desk come to life.


There is a Mother Theresa bowl, a reminder to be conscious of what you are filling your bowl up with;



a sculpture of The Sewer, a reminder to sew the seed of Experience in all that we do;


a kaleidoscope, a visual reminder of the beautiful color and images that exist in our world;






and an Einstein pen inscribed with his most famous equations, a reminder to never forget to have the writing make connections. Gary works in many different Experience disciplines and areas but you can see what’s most important to him by looking at what he puts on his desk.

This physical environment has a true sense of place, not just space. It is not amorphous; it is specific. It is not generic; It is personally engaging. It’s not about context; It’s about activated encounter. To put it simply, the mundane space that is normally a work office has become a vibrantly memorable place because of the intention within it.

Let’s take a look at how you can re-conceive your own work environment to be a memorable place full of intention.  Remember, your aim is not to just change around furniture, pictures, and office knick-knacks to create a better space. Your aim is to create a place of vibrancy. Now is the exciting part—your chance to be an Experience Designer, a Story Structure Architect or a Dreamscaper. Here is where you will begin to think beyond functional space, beyond efficient layout, beyond pretty surroundings … all the way to designing a meaning-full place.

Starizon Studio’s Guide to Designing a Vibrantly Meaning-Full Work Place:

  1. Come up with a three to five word personal Theme or bumper sticker description of the Essence of who you are or what you’re trying to become. Think symbolically. Gary’s is tied to being an explorer and discoverer. What is yours? Have this written down in front of you as a blueprint to help guide you throughout this exercise.
  2. Take a moment to conduct a sensory audit of your work space. Using all your senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell), observe how everything speaks and draws out positive and negative visual cues and feelings.
  3. What is your work space like? Is this an Experience-rich environment?
  4. Does it capture your personal Theme and tell stories about who you are and who you dream of being?
  5. Does the space inspire and celebrate? Is it vibrant?
  6. Now make a list of all the ideas you can think of that could help turn your work space into a vibrantly meaning-full place. For now, do not concern yourself with feasibility. Treat this exercise as a blank canvas to paint a new Experience masterpiece. List every idea (big and small) that you can think of that could help create this vision. Consider things like paint colors, furnishings, space layout, materials, artwork, living things and storytelling options. Star all the ideas that are consistent with your personal Theme.
  7. Review the starred items. Use a dose of common sense, reasonable economics and purpose to select a sub-list of your previous ideas (big and small) that have the greatest potential to truly enhance the concept of Story Structures and Experience-based Placemaking.
  8. Pick two or three changes that would make a significant impact that you can implement this month. Lastly, unleash your inner Experience Designer and get to it!

Now you have taken space and added intention to create a personally meaning-full place. These physical environments of place in turn shape us and the work we do. Whether a table, a room, a home, or an office, these Story Structures don’t just hold up the physical structures of our office, they uphold the Story Structures of our lives.

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