Every Thursday morning, I take the 19 bus to The Harrison Center for the Arts, say hello to the cheerful staff members at the front desk, and proceed to open up the Bindery.
As I slide the light switches to full power, the room starts to come alive. The sewing machine quiet, and ready for designers to create. There are pallets of unique magazines that are ready to spur creative thought. Large tables are waiting for designers to set up computers to design ads, magazine layouts, or to work on a graphic design project. The room is ready to support potential.
The Bindery is officially open. I plug in my laptop and get ready to bust out the to-do list. A few people who reserved their work stations didn’t show up, so it is a pretty quiet morning. Perfect for turning up my music and zoning out in the world of my seventeen inch screen. Plus it is always nice to get out of the normal at home office. However I can’t help but look around at the space and think about the possibilities. The Bindery offers free space to work, free sewing machines, dress forms, and design tables. There is also the benefit of Wi-Fi connection without the annoying sound of coffee house chatter. Then I remember that a lot of people work one job during the day, and then do their “creative job” in the evening or weekends.
The morning caffeine fix has gone away, and it is starting to get lonely. Not in the bad sad way, but more in the , “I am on the verge of having conversations with myself” kind of lonely. Lucky for me I know my intern is coming in, and that the creative director of House of 5th has planned to work in the afternoon. There is also a magazine creative director stopping in to get some work done. My kind of people.
After greetings and getting everyone plugged into the power-strip, we start talking about our projects. Casual conversations, but they’re a reminder of some of the talent working in Indy. A new guest walks in to use the space to get some knitting done. Perfect. Now it is starting to look more like a design space.
As I look at the power-strip loaded with an assortment of power supplies, I am reminded of an article I read at DeskMag, “Who do you share your power outlet with?” The exciting part of working in a coworking space are the opportunities to work next to people that you probably wouldn’t normally have access too. Coworking is more than just who you get to sit next to. It is about a safe space to create, to network, and to spur collaboration.
On the verge of throwing my laptop across the room (layout issues, ugh), I step away to stretch my legs. I chat up the lovely lady knitting away. It looks very relaxing and therapeutic. I don’t think I have the attention span. Plus she gets to see the work grow with each twist and flick of the wrist. We talked a bit about what she does. It was time to force me to tackle the situation at hand.
Since there were some great industry professionals working around me, an organic conversation arose, and we discussed the design problem. Fresh eyes or opinion are something I rarely get when working alone at home. Coworking for freelancers and designers has a benefit to be challenged by other creatives to address the design hurdles.
Is it beer-thirty yet? The Bindery encourages serious work, but it also celebrates wins and success. Sometimes you just need to step away from the project and enjoy a break. To talk, to connect with fellow Indy talent. To discuss what is coming up for some of the brands. As important as hard work and using the Bindery as a space to get work done, it is also an opportunity to strengthen the design community.
Time to close up shop. Everyone has left, and I start to turn off the lights. It’s been a productive day, and one more day closer to the end of Bindery. As I shut down the space for the day, I think about how someone would measure success of this big experiment. It will probably come down to the number of people that actually used the space, and if that number is high enough to see what happens next.
Even if the future of design coworking in Indy is unclear, what is very clear is that there are some people in Indy that believe in the possibility. If you stop by the Bindery to check it out, there is a large banner listing all the partners, sponsors, and supporters of the project. What isn’t listed are the people who believe in Bindery, and put in the work to bring it to life. The people who moved in furniture. The people who coordinated the lunchtime workshops. The people who squeezed in one more project on the list of other huge projects on their list.
Will organizers of the Bindery look back at the pop-up coworking space as a “nice idea”, or the seed that grew into something bigger for designers of Indy? The concept of coworking is hardly a new idea, but what about for designers in Indy? The beta test of Bindery is winding down, but there is still time to come check it out. Better yet sign up to use the space. Ditch the office for the day, and come to a space that just might spur some creative juice.