Five ideas for creative workshops to recharge your design team

More than just a hands-on break from the workday

Quirky illustration and photography are combined to showcase various component of creative workshops. Clockwise from left: supplies for making chocolate bars; a label decorated with candles in colored tins; a punch needle project; three plastic squirt bottles for tie-dye: a tie-dyed drawstring bag; and a clay vase.

Illustration by Abby Kwon

Uncovering and nurturing new skills offers teams opportunities for self-expression, creative collaboration, and growth beyond their job descriptions.

Each quarter we bring together about 100 Adobe Design team members for a creative workshop. While these DIY sessions may seem like a bit of hands-on fun for fun’s sake, we view them as essential to helping the members of our dynamic design team tap into their creativity.

Here are five workshops we’ve led that offered our team a cognitive break, a creative boost, and a handful of hidden benefits:

Hand-sculpting and shaping clay

Hand exercises can alleviate the stress and strain that results from daily use of a keyboard, mouse, or stylus. And focusing on the details of an art project can shift the trajectory of a busy day. When we brought in Sculpd to host a 90-minute masterclass on hand-sculpting pottery, we discovered that molding clay does both with a single activity. Pottery kits—that included bags of air-dry clay, tools, and a booklet of ideas—were mailed to our team and by the time the workshop ended, everyone had a unique piece of art and the tactile gratification of shaping clay.

A cardboard box, packages of clay, sculpting tools, bottles of varnish, and a set of instruction manuals—all labeled with Sculpd—arranged on a tabletop.

Playing with punch needle

Big projects can leave people feeling stuck, frustrated, overwhelmed. When they do, crafts don’t get much more therapeutic than punch needle. For anyone not familiar with it, it’s a form of embroidery that’s less like sewing and more like repeatedly perforating paper. It’s why we asked the Brooklyn Craft Company to host a virtual, 90-minute punch needle class to teach our team the basics—an overview of fabric and needles, texturing techniques, and project finishing skills. Since there’s not a steep learning curve, and Brooklyn Craft Company’s kits have an embroidery hoop, yarn, fabric, and a punch tool, it’s perfect for a short late afternoon session.

An embroidery hoop with a completed punch needle project comprise of yarn colors of olive green, rust orange, pink, and light blue in a geometric pattern.

Techniques and tactics for tie-dye

When teams are busy it’s a good time to make sure they take a breather; it’s not a great time to introduce a craft that requires a lot of concentration. When workloads were at their peak, we kept things simple and familiar by partnering with Momma Osa and Confetti for a 60-minute workshop on tie-dye techniques. We experimented with twisting, scrunching, and swirling to create fun and colorful patterns, and transformed plain white tees, tube socks, and totes from bland to brilliant with vibrant patterns of purple, rose red, and sky blue. It was bright, messy, and restorative.

Three plastic squirt bottles (from left: with a pink label, purple label, and blue label), and a small drawstring bag tie-dyed—with the same pink, purple, and blue colors— are arranged on a table.

Components of candle-making

Hygge—a Danish word that describes feelings of comfort, coziness, and contentment—was the inspiration for this mid-winter candle-making workshop. Candles encourage relaxation and create feelings of warmth and tranquility. The 60-minute Jenny Lemons workshop provided a meditative break for the colder, darker, winter month and everyone left with three (pine, lavender, or unscented) soy candles.

A carboard shipping box with a label decorated with candles in colored tins, reads "Make your own candles kit. Makes three soy wax candles in 6 oz tins."

Crafting custom chocolate bars

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids (photochemical compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and leaves) that have been shown to reduce heart disease risk, boost brain function, and improve blood flow. Couple those health benefits with the fact that many people simply love it, and it’s easy to guess why this workshop, coordinated by Confetti and led by expert chocolate maker, I’m The Chef Too, was so popular.

A blue-and-white cardboard shipping box overflowing with supplies for making chocolate bars: milk, white, and dark chocolate chips, almonds, sprinkles, candy-shelled chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers.

As much as people like learning something new, the true value of creative workshops isn’t in their outcome, it’s in setting aside time during a workday to focus creative energy on something unrelated to work. They shouldn’t be viewed as perks for a busy team but rather a key part of supporting its creative, emotional, and physical health by giving people the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones, break up routines, and take a break from complex tasks.

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