With the sudden shutdown of 3rd Ward and General Assembly, NYC's creative space has taken a hit in the past couple of weeks... which is why Makeshift Society's Brooklyn expansion is happening at such a great time. Their first location in San Francisco has seen overwhelming success. So much, in fact, that the crew has set to the streets in Williamsburg and are looking at opening a new co-working space/clubhouse in early 2014.
With over 300 members taking part in the San Francisco Makeshift Society movement, founders Bryan Boyer and Rena Tom are looking to do a few things differently with their Brooklyn office. "Our SF and NYC locations are siblings, but they're not going to be identical twins," says Tom. "The pace in NYC is faster, so we'll adjust to that without forgetting our roots. The mood at Makeshift Society is relaxed without being pretentious and productive without being overwhelming." The space will be dedicated to creative types looking to get away from their kitchen table home offices. "That includes people like photographers, graphic designers, small interaction design studios and more; product businesses like jewelry and furniture; as well as consultants who work with these people, from business strategists to and marketing experts and everyone in between," says Boyer. Unsurprisingly, this audience also comprises the majority of the backers for their Kickstarter campaign to help get the new space up and running.
Makeshift is also looking at creating a tool lending library. "One of the things we heard from people is that if you don't have access to the facilities and spaces of a university or a larger company, it can be hard to execute projects at home," says Boyer. "We'll have stuff like cameras, light kits, audio equipment, a plotter and other tools that are irreplaceable when you need them but probably too bulky or expensive to own yourself."
Input from Makeshift members and community members has inspired the group to develop some of their most enticing elements. "The first time we held a meeting in Brooklyn we invited people to throw suggestions our way—the tool lending library that is the subject of our Kickstarter came out of that discussion, actually," says Tom. "We listen carefully and encourage people who want to learn this or that skill to also consider teaching something. This means that people are interacting constructively around topics they care about."
There will also be office hours in the building for members to ask business and legal questions pertaining to their endeavors and after hours lectures. "Mixed in with the suggestions and wishes from our members we also develop programming, so this mix of member-driven desires and 'benevolent dictatorship' helps us keep a good balance," Tom says.
"People used to hunt for 'the perfect office' but there's no such thing as a definitively perfect office," says Boyer. "Makeshift is not going to be perfect for everyone and that's OK. We would rather retain our values and create a space and a community that we believe in than try to suit everyone." Tom elaborates:
Our perfect space balances comfort and familiarity with elements which are a bit more challenging. If the environment is too much 'like home' then there's not much reason to bother leaving home. The elements that we build out as part of our renovation will keep the open feel while adding lots of nooks and crannies to help members working solo or in small groups find the spot that's right for them.
Although it may sound like an exclusive group from the size of the membership and space, Boyer notes that they "aren't trying to make a cool kids' club and say who's in and who's out—New York has enough of those!" On the contrary, the application process is "mostly to give us a chance to interact with people while they're signing up." Boyer continues, "If Makeshift was a closed community of people we already knew, it would not be half as useful (or interesting). We do hope, however, that our members are curious about learning new things, sharing what they know and genuinely looking for a community of like-minded peers."
On that note, "if you want the cheapest desk to just clock in and clock out every day, Makeshift Society is honestly not for you."
What do you hope to see from this collaborative space? Check out their Kickstarter campaign and share your thoughts in the comments.