What do genius spaces look like?

Do we still need books when we have the Internet?

This question comes up from time to time and I wish I had a simple answer. To be fair it is not a simple question.

I was listening to Walter Isaacson talk about his most recent book “Leonardo da Vinci” on NPR. I never knew that Leonardo was born two years before Guttenberg invented the printing press, and because Leonardo was illegitimate, he received no formal education beyond the basics of reading, writing and math.

My curiosity was piqued; did Leonardo have access to books? Were books the fuel to his genius? Did the idea of publishing and sharing his work propel him forward?

While it is hard to go back and look at his workspace, we can look at the creative spaces of modern day Leonardo’s. Below are some images of workspaces for contemporary inventors, artists, writers and scientists. All seem to surround themselves with books, art and, in some instances, computers.






Steve Jobs






William F. Buckley Jr.







Albert Einstein






Al Gore






Hayao Miyazaki







Charles Darwin

















If these people surround themselves with books and created their own libraries and art collections, then maybe there is something we can learn from them.