Tour the Sophisticated Space That Proves Coworking Is All Grown Up
The lobby at Bond Collective, a coworking space just a few blocks from New York’s famous Wall Street, is dim despite natural and lamp lighting. When members and visitors exit the elevators, their first impression is a wall of framed images featuring pristinely dressed businesspeople in wildly contorted poses. It’s the work of Robert Longo from his series “Men in the City.”
Sophistication doesn’t have to be stuffy, and work doesn’t have to be a drag. That’s the mentality Elide Grabowski, Bond Collective’s director of design, kept in mind when detailing every inch of common area in the 40,000-square-foot space at 60 Broad Street.
She says that, above all, she wants Bond Collective’s members to “feel refreshed to be at work” when they arrive. Muted lighting and dark walls evoke the feel of both a lounge and exclusive club, as well as a sense of coziness. Dozens of chairs and sofas, of all shapes and textures -- even pillows propped against the window ledge -- invite members and guests to make themselves comfortable.
In this front lobby area, you won’t find a sign that reads “Bond Collective,” and unlike at some other contemporary coworking spaces, you certainly won’t see any posters with motivational slogans. There are designated times when members can get together for happy hour -- the collective is mature, in contrast to the college dorm coworking stereotype.
“With the furniture, the people around you and the lighting, it doesn’t need to say ‘get motivated.’ You feel the vibe and you feel motivated,” says Shlomo Silber, co-founder and CEO of Bond Collective. “Shared space, I think, originally was for startups -- a place for smaller companies to come until they were ready to grow into a larger office. We see that very differently. We see companies that want to be in a shared space, where they don’t have to worry about any of the daily headaches of the copier breaking down or cleaning services or anything along those lines.”
Bond’s combination of classic and modern design is devoid of overt branding, and Silber says he doesn’t want to tell his members -- which include companies that specialize in everything from healthcare to hospitality, architecture to coding and even cookies -- how to work. If you look closely, you’ll recognize how Bond Collective members’ preferences define the space, which, although decorated, is a blank canvas. “It’s not about our brand,” Silber says. “It’s about making your brand better.” The geometric shapes throughout are Bond Collective’s most explicit (yet still subtle) nod to its own brand imagery.
“We like to be in the background,” Grabowski says, “and let our members be on display.”
The company has four locations in New York and a fifth in the works. It also recently announced a forthcoming space in Philadelphia set to open in spring 2018, the first of 30 additional leases Bond Collective plans to sign nationwide by 2020. Future locations will go beyond workspaces to include hotels, retail stores and more.
A warm welcome
Multiple colorful, symmetrical seating arrangements positioned directly behind the front desk are more than just pleasing to the eye. Bold colors and antiques are meant to be conversation pieces for Bond Collective members and their clients or guests, while also enticing them to sit down and get comfortable on soft, velvety fabrics.
“A lot of the colors and things that I’ve chosen are to appeal to people with all different types of sensibilities,” Grabowski says. “Male, female, modern, classic.”
Bonding beyond the boardroom
Growing toward the light
Plants also adorn the space, contributing to its tropical clubhouse vibe. This banana tree, which Grabowski named “Freddy,” because it started with the same letter as “flora,” is branching out toward the windows. Many members buy corresponding plants for their offices. In the absence of collective branding, common plants foster a cohesive feel throughout the two floors.
Creativity and focus
This translucent fluted glass keeps the desks behind it private, but not completely closed off from the rest of the main lobby space. The tables directly in front of it can be used for solitary purposes, such as reading or laptop work, or one-on-one conversation. A variety of textures and shapes keep in line with Bond’s overall aesthetic, giving those who occupy the space a range of options and stimuli to promote collaborative, creative thinking.
Throw pillows placed strategically on wide windowsills make the cafeteria and lobby space feel cozy and inviting. The lighting at the tables is designed to resemble that of an old library, which suggests quiet study. Members can enjoy lunch in groups, or they can grab a snack, coffee or glass of infused water and work alone.
Cookie Friday and other events
Every Friday at 3:30 p.m., members at all four Bond Collective locations celebrate “Cookie Friday.” All members are invited to meet in the cafeteria area and enjoy cookies and milk (or wine) as they wind down the work week. Bond Collective member Sweet Loren’s, which is based out of the 60 Broad St. location, provides the cookie dough, which is baked in a tiny oven on-site.
Bond Collective also hosts new member happy hours, guest lectures and quarterly town hall meetings to allow members to get to know one another and voice their desires. At town halls, members vote on desired new features. For example, members at the Gowanus, Brooklyn, location wanted a compost option for their food waste, while 60 Broad St. members said they’d prefer wine on tap instead of beer. Between these meetings, Bond Collective occasionally issues anonymous surveys or provides a suggestion box for ideas.
“We don’t want our programming to ever be a distraction to our members,” Grabowski says, “but rather a choice that they can participate in.
Tell a friend
This cart is one of the only places throughout Bond Collective that features brand materials. It contains pamphlets detailing each of the four Bond Collective spaces throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, along with information about the company’s member referral program. Placed in the most visible spot in the entire two-floor space, the referral materials indicate that Bond Collective is constantly looking to expand its diverse community.
Take a call -- or nap
Each of the phone rooms includes a small table, the edge of which is cut into a half-hexagonal shape with brass trim. The green velvet walls match some of the furniture in the main lobby area, but the material also serves acoustics and sound insulation. In case people can’t tell what these narrow rooms are for, Grabowski placed a print of an old telephone booth outside of them. However, members are more than welcome to use these spaces to meditate or even nap.
Meeting in style
As you exit the common space and make your way toward the conference rooms and member offices, the lighting shifts to fluorescent and the paint on the walls switches to white, but the black and white patterns, marble surfaces and other design themes remain. This conference room even features hexagonal drawer handles, which Grabowski made herself. The walls are partially frosted windows, which allow for privacy at eye level. The walls also provide Bond Collective members the option of keeping their identities anonymous from the public if they wish.
Conference room names have a Lower Manhattan theme in this location, with names such as Freedom, Liberty and State. The actual Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty are visible from windows around the perimeter of the floor.
“Our favorite member,” Grabowski jokes about Lady Liberty in the harbor outside. “She doesn’t pay for the space,” Silber adds, “but it’s kind of like a referral fee, because people see her and then they want to be in the space.”
Never a dull feature
While the offices within Bond Collective are blank canvases with white and glass walls and bright lights to signal it’s time to focus, this shared printing, shredding and paper-cutting station is emblematic of Bond Collective’s style and character. Grabowski has peppered the corridors with paintings by local artists, plants and patterned walls for a refreshing, eye-soothing visual “respite” when members step away from their workstations to make a copy or use the restroom.
The bathroom walls are lined with Juju Papers wallpaper, which is hand-printed in Oregon. This fun pattern is yet another visual stimulant for bleary-eyed workers. A cabinet of toiletries and Chanel perfume (in the upper floor bathroom cabinet) and a mouthwash dispenser on the bathroom sink are all provided to help members feel refreshed.
Refreshing by design
More Juju Papers cover the walls outside this set of bathrooms. Calming lamp light and a stack of old books encourage members to take a mental break, in addition to a physical one. This dresser doubles as a place to store toilet paper.
Space for new moms
Nursing mothers are the only Bond Collective members who have keys to this lactation room, which has a lock that displays whether it’s in use. It’s one of the many ways Bond Collective ensures privacy to those who request it.
Worth the work
Rather than book a conference room or walk all the way to a common space, these meeting booths across from member offices provide a spot for casual collaboration. They make use of space that would otherwise be a wall, and they incorporate design elements echoed throughout Bond Collective. For consistency, the hexagon-shaped tables found in the phone rooms are present again here, and the orange leather seats and green lamps match the colors in the phone rooms off the main lobby. Grabowski hired specialists to build the walls of each booth with optimal acoustics, and she bought the difficult-to-lay fabric, after much searching for the perfect bold pattern, from Ralph Lauren.
“This was one of my favorite parts of designing the space,” Grabowski says. “Figuring out exactly how to do it took a very long time.”
These mail bins not only match the bold navy walls throughout the space, but they cater to members’ needs. Bond Collective provides mail service to its members, and they can retrieve large boxes from the building’s basement. But for smaller packages, which make up much of the mail its members receive, these bins are the perfect storage solution.
A bridge between members
This tablet setup allows members to buy snacks and allows Bond Collective to keep track of purchases -- and keep tabs on its members’ favorite items for restocking. A sign explains the rules of the “honor market” and reminds members to pay for each item when they retrieve it, rather than try to remember what they took and pay later.
Tying it all together
This seating area under the staircase is Bond Collective’s way of adding even more seating to its limited Manhattan space. This circular rug with a double-line border corresponds to the rectangular rugs in the cafeteria area, as well as the floors in the elevator lobby, which Grabowski worked with a cement company to match. These spherical lamps match the light fixture that hangs over the staircase, and Juju Papers canvas its underside.
“This is a space that’s normally underutilized,” Grabowski says. “In a coworking space, you want to make as much space as you can and utilize every inch.”