Find (or Craft) Your Creative Laboratory! Thoughts from Len Sweet’s Office!

[tentblogger-vimeo 21314252]

As the video embedded shares I’m hanging out with Leonard Sweet and a bunch of other very intelligent individuals here on Orcas Island off the cost of Washington (right here). We are sharing thoughts about how technology impacts culture, church, and the theological challenges and opportunities that it can create.

One of the neatest things about this trip so far is simply Len’s home and the cottage that he’s allowed me to stay in. They are, without question, extremely creative in terms of architecture, flow, lighting, artifacts, and decor. It’s no wonder that he’s been able to be as productive as he has been because the environments he’s created are uniquely designed to export out of himself all that he’s been able to create.

It is a “creative laboratory” and it has reminded me of how important that environment is for me as I try to stay as productive as possible.

I have yet to craft the perfect creative (or creation) laboratory for myself but I will as soon as I can.

My question to you, the community here, is three fold:

  1. What is the “perfect” creative laboratory for your writing?
  2. Where is it?
  3. What does it have in it?

Essentially, if time and resources weren’t an issue, what would this “lab” look like? I want to hear your thoughts (because I may even borrow a few of your ideas!)!

Ah, and here are a few pictures from the event:

John Bergquist and I were the special guests.

Not planned, but we both wore video game-related tshirts on the last day!

Len Sweet is pretty much a genius.

There are some more pictures from the event right here!

  • Randy Cantrell

    Too bad we couldn’t get a video tour. Come on, dude. You shouldn’t gotten CREATIVE and asked! :D

    • John Saddington

      haha. actually. i did… i haven’t shared it though…..

  • Randy Cantrell

    Make that “SHOULD’VE” ;-)

    • John Saddington

      ;) word.

  • ThatGuyKC

    I love the idea of focusing on the environment in which we create having such a significant impact and trying to replicate it. I hadn’t really thought about it much before following this blog.

    Thank you for the insight and hope you enjoyed the beautiful Northwest.

    • John Saddington

      i did. it would have been awesome to hang!

  • Eric Dye


    • John Saddington


  • Kyle Reed

    I would like to have a place, but I think my place is all over. I go to multiple different spots a day and I like to have a flow to my day of visiting different places and different people.
    I would love to have an office right above a coffee shop that is on a busy street.
    Filled with an exposed brick wall, a window overlooking the street, nice wood floors, no fluorescent lights huge computer display in the corner with the walls lined with books. A nice couch to relax on with a comfy office chair to do my work in.

    That is what comes to mind right now. Oh and I think I want a fish tank as well

    • John Saddington

      lol. fish tank?

    • Neil @ Looking Towards Home

      Nice! Can I come over when you’re not using it?

      Maybe have some form of rota system?

  • Dustin W. Stout

    Oh man… I could write an entire blog post on this, but I’ll save everyone the time. My perfect creative space would have 3 major elements – maximum natural lighting, highest quality sound system, and a 3 monitor Apple set up that would make any web designer drool. All of this would emphasize minimalism and creative color usage.

    • John Saddington

      3 monitors? yikes! expensive….

      • Neil @ Looking Towards Home

        But minimal (apparently)


  • Jeff Goins

    Wow, hanging out with Len Sweet. What a gift!

    • John Saddington

      ;) it was great!

  • john

    John, It really was amazing wasn’t it. Tom and I had a blast adding The Sweet Man Cave (office) to Gowalla Monday night. I totally agree and as I look around my own home office I am reminded of Hugh Grants Cube Grenade initiative where he encourages us to fill our creative space with things that both inspire us and remind us of why we are in the work we find our selves. I surround myself with books and art but I really can not think of anyone who has done this better than Len. His home, office and property all have it. Here are shots of last years event which give some feel for what the office looks like

    • John Saddington

      dude, it was awesome!

  • Zach

    My perfect laboratory is actually quite simple:

    1) must be stable
    2) must be quiet (or at least have some pleasant goings-on)
    3) should be a “comfortable” environment
    4) the one person I love the most should be around :) makes me tons happier!

    • John Saddington

      what does “comfortable” mean?

  • Speckle of Dirt

    So glad you were able to visit my neck of the woods! Taking a boat or ferry out to the islands is a special experience for us in the NW!

    I need visual organization in my creative lab, be it the kitchen or the office. Also candle light in winter, fresh flower clippings from the garden in summer. Love the classical music on pandora for writing and Paco de Lucia while cooking. Environment is a huge mood accelerator and inhibitor!

    Thanks for the post. Looking forward to your inspired posts after your trip!

    • John Saddington

      fresh flower clippings……. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  • Tyler Braun

    Hope you enjoyed the PNW. Too bad spring hasn’t really arrived here yet.

    • John Saddington

      it was beautiful!

  • Kevin G

    As an itinerant United Methodist pastor, I do not live in my own home but in a church-provided parsonage and have been doing so for the last 19 years. I’ve had an office that looked out at a brick wall, one that looked at a massive thicket of multiflora rose. I wrote my dissertation in the basement of a parsonage amidst the furnace, the sump pump, the water heater, and the well pump. My current office at the parsonage actually looks out over my Amish neighbor’s fields off to a mountain ridge in the distance–very nice. Since the opportunities to adapt the physical nature of my workspace is limited (I can tweak, not renovate), my truly creative space has to be portable. The music I listen to while working has been consistent for years. The screen of my laptop is as much a part of my creative environment as anything else. Right now, my desktop wallpaper is Astronomy Picture of the Day which always amazes me each morning with a new image. I have the same meaningful “artifacts” on my desk.

    • John Saddington

      what artifacts? you got me curious.

      • Kevin G

        Mostly related to my family. The same pictures. An old “Stop Smoking” piggy bank that one of my kids filled with pennies and gave to me. One particular cross that my wife gave me. Those sorts of things. Little things that remind me of the constants in my mobile life.

        • John Saddington

          i like that. love it actually.

  • gabriel.

    supposing time, resources, & also physics were non-issues, my ideal space would be an antique wooden desk inside a low-gravity chamber. really, though, the most important thing for me is having – or creating, even if only mentally – an environment that is trustworthy. meaning: a place where i can express freely, without concern about how the expression will be received by the environment or its inhabitants.

    • John Saddington

      low-gravity chamber? wow. that is the most creative one so far!

  • Tom Davis

    Great blog.! I should give you a video tour of my office! Good times hanging out with you for those two days. We’ll have to find a way to do it again in the near future. Take care of yourself my man.

    • John Saddington

      thank tom! good to see you man.!

  • Brian Alexander

    Reading his book “The Gospel According to Starbucks” right now. Lovin’ it. Good stuff. Talks about coffee quite a bit.

    • John Saddington

      for sure… you’re a drinker, right?

  • Neil @ Looking Towards Home

    “If time and resources weren’t an issue, what would this “lab” look like?”

    I think I would point my designer in the direction of a 1970′s Hammer Horror Frankenstein Laboratory. You know the kind – big bare stone walls, colourful, bubbling glassware and a wall-full of levers, cranks and buttons for when you need a big electrical arc to give you that much-needed spark of creativity.


    • John Saddington

      yikes……..! i want a picture of that (if it ever happens)!

  • Adam

    I love this concept of creating a creative environment. I moved a few months ago and plan on trying to create some lace like this. Wry informative and motivating. Thanks for sharing.

    • John Saddington

      awesome. what have you come up with so far?