So there I was, walking through the Sandton (Johannesburg’s Business Disctrict) CBD on my way to attend a session hosted by Equinox and Cerebra. It was windy and I almost felt a bit like Batman, pacing from the Gautrain station upwards towards Maude street, with my coat dangling in the wind. Jip, winter is definitely here and I craved shelter from the taunting wind.
I found a cute little roastery that sold coffee and I was sorted. With warm comfort (coffee) in hand, I walked further. The shade cast by the towers and business buildings made me a bit grumpy as they were stealing the warm sunlight. If it wasn’t for their beauty, Batman (that would be me for the moment) would roundhouse kick them to let through some vital sunshine D, aka the sun. I arrived at 15 Alice Lane and the corporate energy can be felt in the expensive vehicles, people’s suits and the way they queue to get through security. What mattered more was that I was inside, away from the wind. “You need to go down to level -1” the lady at reception remarked. -1? Surely if this is a corporate session, why do I go down to the basement? Shouldn’t it be in the professional, corporate auditorium further along? It struck me as odd, but I obliged and took the elevator down.
The doors swallowed me up only to spit me out again a level down. PING! the sound almost ripped me from my thoughts. There I was. I was baffled. I am almost sure I took a wrong turn and arrived at the Underground in London somewhere. The distinct styling, tiles and signage teleported me to a different place. The friendly man told me to ring the bell. No more Batman vibes, these are James Bond vibes! The door opened and closed behind me and I was cubicled with a lovely wooden clock to keep me company. Another door swished (is there such a word?) open and I entered an old library, complete with seating, dimmed lighting, books, knick knacks on the shelves and I was no longer in Corporate Johannesburg. I was in the underbelly of a creative thing. What magic is this??!
There it was again….. swiish… another door opened and I am greeted by lovely receptionists clearly enjoying my baffled expression as I sign in. Through the doors again and I entered a room where circling television screens greeted me, empty apart from the beanbags scattered to the side. This is literally a mind@#%$, (a good one might I add) and through the worm hole I arrived at the reception area with artificial grass and seating. After I collected my Americano, I sat down. How is it possible that within the corporate structure that imposes, impresses and almost intimidates, flows a space where I can breath, absorb light, sights, sounds and a plethora of creative energy.
We were greeted and guided to the session hall. There an ensemble of seating awaited us, unconventional, different, colourful and on wheels. Yes, the seating moved the moment you put your weight down on it. Think it’s that way for a reason, to blur lines, make you aware of how out of control and IN control collaboration can be sometimes. I enjoyed my morning on Internal Collaboration hosted by Mike Stopforth from Cerebra a lot. What I enjoyed even more, or shall I say appreciated, was the creative space that was born from a need by the Corporate sector in Sandton, to use space to create, dream, make mistakes, ask silly questions and a space that can be the catalyst to exceptional collaboration.
The question still bugged me. What are we doing with our spaces? Can we do the same? Are we utilizing spaces to serve us or are we doing things to serve and justify the space we use? Surely creativity cannot be boxed, but it can be found. It can be found in the creative underbelly of the Corporate towers called Equinox. It can be felt at the Roastery just off West street, where I bought my coffee from earlier, it can be found in the garden, kitchen, on mountains and so I can go on. WE (us), need to use our spaces better, utilize our spaces to service not just us, but others. Well done Equinox on being a catalyst and thank you for the challenge to create and collaborate and create spaces for people to be baffled in, to dream in, to meet in, to work in, to play in, to bring change about.
PS. They are open to host your meeting, go Google them! Now!