(Photo by Tyler Woods)
It was a packed house of well-dressed people at the immaculately-designed The New Work Project, the newest entrant into Williamsburg’s coworking market Wednesday night.
The event featured speaker Graham Nelson, of Vox Media, as well as a VR room and a display of 3D-knitted apparel by Technical.ly fave and Bushwick startup Thursday Finest. The event was organized by talent platform Raw Haus.
“We’re design-led and operate more like a hospitality business, in contrast to larger, real estate-driven spaces,” explained New Work Project founder James Davison, who took a minute out from the party to talk in a dimly lit work studio.
New Work Project is much smaller than other coworking spaces in the area, such as The Yard and WeWork. It has 3,500 square feet, but most of that is a common area, with private offices and conference rooms ringing it. The common area has some rows of desks but is mostly a living room and kitchen of the style you might see in the Hamptons. Notably, it’s in the former HQ of Vice Media, which decamped in 2016 to the former Domino Sugar plant closer to the river.
Given the beauty of the design, we were surprised to hear The New Work Project has similar prices to the competition, about $700 a desk, depending. We asked Davison what his secret was and he had a pretty simple answer:
“I think those guys are just charging more than what they should be charging,” he said.
“If you want to create a genuinely collaborative community, you have to have likeminded people and give them a space designed to allow for fluid, non-compartmentalized working. If you look at these others, they’re vast, industrialized complexes with atomized work spaces,” Davison said, referring to the rows of box and glass door offices you find at The Yard and WeWork.
Coworking spaces specialized by industry is a trend we’re quite interested here at Technical.ly Brooklyn. It would seem to make a lot of sense to segment a market in order to best address its needs. We reported two years ago on the coworking space for freelance journalists, Study Hall, which, unlike traditional coworking spaces, allows and even encourages its members to be talking on the phone, as journalists so often are. Study Hall now has since grown to two locations in Brooklyn.
And indeed, the members at The New Work Project were design-focused.
“Right off the bat, the design is meticulous,” said Steven Carey, an employee of The Gathery, a high-end events planning company which previously had an office down the street at The Yard. “[The design] is aligned not only with our personal aesthetic, but with the aesthetic of our brand as well. In part, the space here represents what we represent.”
With recent news about other coworking spaces struggling, New Work Project offers another vision of how to make it work on a non-chain level.