WeWork isn’t a coworking space; it’s a platform for creators. What’s the difference? As part of a WeWork membership, these creators enjoy much more than just a place to do business. For one, WeWork organizes regular events, such as networking nights for women in tech, improv performances, and new media summits. WeWork also invests time and energy to ensure the design of each location promotes the growth of a creative community. How do they achieve this?
Going Au Naturale
Natural light is one important factor. The design team uses glass partitions throughout WeWork’s locations. These allow natural light to shine through, injecting energy into the atmosphere. They also promote a sense of transparency and collaboration between members.
The lounge area in the new South Loop WeWork location in Chicago (photo courtesy of WeWork).
Mixing it Up
Beyond good lighting, the design team aims to establish a variety of settings to accommodate different work styles and energy levels. Members can spend a great deal of time at work: a member might arrive fresh and ready to go in the morning, work over lunch, and stay late into the night as energy wanes. Good design can offer comfort and fluidity in the course of that day.
For instance, members at WeWork’s National Building location in downtown Chicago can choose to work in a private office or phone booth, at one of several conference tables, or while enjoying a meal at a kitchen counter. They can also kick back like they’re at home thanks to a living room vignette flanked by a pair of Gray sofas from Interior Define.
Motivation through Inspiration
In all these settings, members find themselves immersed in an inspiring decor that draws on the National Building’s rich history and surroundings. Indeed, the building itself is a creative muse to members, with its Classical Revival style designed in 1907 by famed Chicago architect and city planner Daniel Burnham.
The building is also situated at the center of some of the financial district’s great public art works: there are Picasso and Miro sculptures a few blocks away, and WeWork’s members enjoy views of Alexander Calder’s Flamingo sculpture just across the street. The design team brought this artistic landscape inside the office space with rough, studio-style finishes, such as routed raw plywood. It also created custom wall coverings that feature artwork on display at the nearby Art Institute of Chicago.
A Support System
At 80,000 members strong and growing, WeWork has clearly found a winning formula in its community-driven design. Matt Brooks, Chicago City Director of Sofar, a startup that creates intimate, often secret live music experiences, is a member in Chicago.
“WeWork works for us because they are as much a community as we are,” he says. “I think the community teams at WeWork go above and beyond others trying to do the same thing here and around the world; they are really here to lift all of these companies up rather than just fill the offices.”
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