On Thursday I received a phone call from a great friend. He was one of the 5 people present when I made the official decision to take on the Alchemist Production name and began branding. Zac called to catch up and tell me about his most recent business idea, Coworking. He lives in an area that already has 3 very different coworking spaces, but I believe that there is a shared value in line with the Coworking Manifesto to the greatest degree. I have recently been exploring the idea of work culture, work identity, community and the impact of work spaces. More and more coworking or collaborative working spaces are popping up in cities all around me. This is not a new idea.
Let’s talk about the history of shared work spaces. Cafes are one of the original cowork environments, although the people sitting with paper and pens, or now a days, on their computers are not interacting with each other, the culture is present. Since the 1920s companies have experimented with the psychology behind work spaces from lighting to sectioned departments to open room floor plans. Each experiment measured productivity, communication, creativity, and community. Artist cooperatives like the 10th Street Galleries, a set of artist-run galleries, that began opening in NewYork in the 1950s included studio facilities and exhibition space. These two examples are the foundation of the fundamental ideas influencing our 21st century cowork movement and revitalization of makers.
It’s common place to see a cafe within a contemporary coworking space. Blurring the line between cafe and work space. The cafe may have its own set of company values and the patrons may not share these values on a professional level. This is the distinction between people who work in a cafe and people who are members of the social institution of coworking. The most popular type of coworking space support entrepreneurs in an array of industries. Unfortunately makerspaces are not as accessible as the spaces dedicated to tech startups and other diverse independent professionals. Which brings up personal questions, where do I land in the professional world? Am I part of the maker movement?
The maker movement is defined as the new “DIY”. There is a manifesto made up of ideas converging traditional artisans with technology. I believe I am a traditional artisan but I went to college to learn my personal craft. This may or may not separate me from the movement. It’s still a bit unclear to me. When my partner and I made the decision to move to Miami I began researching studio spaces that would allow me to create my sculptures. I have two major pain points with the kind of making I do. One, I run saws, sanders, and an air compressor regularly which is both loud and messy. Two is I need to stage my objects and present them in a space that will convey the final image. Taking other people into consideration means I’d rather not piss you off with the roaring sounds and on some occasions the weird smells that my materials produce while curing. I started looking into coworking spaces, because I believe I am an entrepreneur, or artrepreneur. I fell in love with Made at The Citadel. Unfortunately the monthly financial overhead was outside of my budget for the amount of physical space needed to support my personal maker needs. I believe in the core values that coworking spaces represent. I want to be part of a community of like minded innovators that explore different industries and can come together on a socially responsible level. I love that each and every different space has a unique visual identity that push the mission and invite entrepreneurs to build the creative business culture allowing them to work in these concept spaces.
I’ve had the pleasure of being supported by BOLD: Cowork when they purchased a commissioned installation for their space. The project was in line with my core values and one of the many reasons I feel supported by cowork institutions. Zac and I are now involved in a conversation about his personal cowork mission taking the fundamental ideas and pushing to create a space that will impact people and support his community. The visual identity is just as important as the business plan. Integrating the two ideas as he moves forward are going to develop the positive impact on the community at large. I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve been supported by and I will continue to support the mission to thrive in a work environment that expresses productivity, communication, creativity, and community, one networking event and installation at a time.