November 8, 2011

Always Be Knolling

Knolling is a design meme that involves removing distractions and grouping like objects together at 90 degree angles to create a neat and aesthetically pleasing workspace. The term was first coined in 1987 (incidentally the year I was born but that’s not important) by Andrew Kromelow but has evolved over time thanks to artist Tom Sachs.

Does it work? Does clearing and rearranging your desk make for a more creative and productive environment?

I wanted to know, so I tried it.

First off, I want to start by saying that I am a clutterbug and love having all of my things around me so as much as I’m intrigued by knolling I’d still feel a twinge of regret as I put an old rice cracker in the bin. (“But what if I need it?!”)

Here’s a picture of my (very grown up) work space, pre knoll…

If you’d like to knoll along at home here’s how to do it.

  1. Scan your environment for materials, tools, books, music, etc. which are not in use.
  2. Put away everything not in use. If you aren’t sure, leave it out.
  3. Group all ‘like’ objects.
  4. Align or square all objects to either the surface they rest on, or the studio itself.

So I followed the steps with gusto, but had to deal with a hard decision halfway through about whether to group my whiteboard pens into colour or type.

(In case you’re wondering, I went for type, followed by colour)

Here’s the finished product.

As you can see, there’s a heroic level of knolling going on here. From the meticulously placed post-its to the carefully planned angle of the jumbo Hello Kitty Pez dispenser.

So here’s the thing, am I feeling more creative? I am actually. As procrastination is generally considered to be a good thing for creativity, I can honestly say that spending ten minutes a day lining up pens in silence is a sort of meditation only with stationary.

If you fancy knolling, tweet pictures of you efforts at us on Twitter so we can fangirl/fanboy over your clean lines and sexy desks.