It's common for artists and designers to rent studio space in a shared building, where they can work undisturbed without necessarily interacting with any of the other tenants. The Studio in Boulder hopes to combine the idea of separate spaces and a community atmosphere in a new type of shared studio space, giving people the option to work alone in their office or interact with others in the shared areas.
"For me it's just really this idea of creating a really wonderful, rich, collaborative environment of people who make stuff and do things that are really interactively part of our community," say Jen Lewin, co-creator of The Studio.
Lewin, an artist and designer, creates large art installations that are usually displayed in community spaces. She is the original designer for The Kitchen restaurants, which focus on community seating, and The Kitchen Learning Gardens, which are stacked modular gardens that are installed in schools around the country. "The focus of my work -- whether it's in my actual artwork or in my design work where I design things like The Kitchen restaurants -- has been always to create an engaged community space. So when I build artwork and take it into the world, the artwork has at its root this idea of creating community," she says.
While looking for a larger space, Lewin and William Goodrich, with whom she used to work, came up with the concept of a work space that would support offices as well as workshops for artists. "There are a lot of really wonderful co-working spaces out there, but a lot of them support more of an office user, and in my case as an artist I need to be able to have a forklift and a dock, but I also want to be able to have a really nice conference room and a really beautiful kitchen, and I want to be able to have private events there," Lewin explains.
She believes she found the space at 3550 Frontier Avenue in Boulder, where The Studio will provide spots fit for a variety of creative work. "We have several spaces that could be for a potter, be for a welder, be for someone who does pretty high-production, high-end, material usage kind of projects. But then we also have really wonderful, more professional offices and spaces where people can have desks," Lewin says.
The partnership between Lewin and Goodrich is a perfect example of the diversity of work that can done in the space. Goodrich used to work with Lewin on her art installations, but he also works in the field of technology. "I build instruments, little devices that have sensors and gather information about the world around us, and then with that data, kind of gather some interesting conclusions about how people go through the world, how they use products, that sort of thing," he explains.
Art and technology are increasingly overlapping, so they wanted to create a space that reflects that. "The idea is to have a space for creative-type folks. The term that we're using -- creative -- is obviously fairly ambiguous," Goodrich adds. "But that's sort of the idea, the idea being that there's tons of different industries and lines of work where people end up being creative. We've got photographers, filmmakers, documentarians, journalists, people building software, computer hardware. What we want to create is something all those people, whether they're doing something similar to each other or vastly different, that they can all kind of draw on each other's creativity."
Citing a recent New York Times article titled "Working Alone, Together," Lewin explains the importance of being able to work alone in your space when you need it, but also having the opportunity to interact with the other tenants in the space. The shared space will have elements conducive to this interaction, including a large kitchen with a community table and a modified old Airstream trailer serving as a conference room.
They also plan to have community-inspired activities, like a large shared lunch once a week, conferences and events. "I believe, in my own experience, if you have an amazing lighting designer next to an artist, next to someone who builds apps for an iPhone, they're going to start sharing things and realize there's just all these wonderful opportunities for collaborations to form when you bring different groups of people together," Lewin says.
Lewin has been working on the design of The studio, while Goodrich has been working on the construction. They expect the space to ready for tenants to move in by the beginning of December. While Lewin will be the largest tenant, there will be a variety of spaces for rent. "The people who are interested are people who are also building communities," Lewin notes. "I'm hoping there will be kind of an active presence in that realm and that we'll be doing things that are engaged,"
While the construction continues, Lewin and Goordich are holding happy-hour meetings at 4:30 p.m. every Friday at Sanitas Brewing, which is next door, to talk to anyone who is interested in joining The Studio. For more information on the space and the weekly gatherings, visit The Studio's website or Facebook page. Those interested in renting a space can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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