How A/D/O Is Spreading The Joy Of Community-Driven Creativity
Just a few blocks from McCarren Park in Greenpoint is an open space with metal tables, modern grey couches, concrete floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. People sip coffee and work on laptops as natural light comes in through a 16-foot skylight. This is what you see when you enter A/D/O, a 23,000-square-foot co-working space and community center for creative professionals.
A/D/O was initiated and is fully run by MINI and Brooklyn-based nArchitects was the firm picked to create the project. It was conceived to fulfill a unique, yet needed niche—a workspace for designers.
“We created A/D/O to be, first and foremost, a place for creative exchange to occur without boundaries,” said Nathan Poekert, director of A/D/O’s communications and marketing.
The aforementioned space includes 5,000 square feet of seating, free Wi-Fi and a café open to the public.
Then there are two large studios: one for designers and one for design entrepreneurs. Designers can bring their own monitors and use the state-of-the-art tools supplied by A/D/O, including CNC routers, laser cutters, 3-D printers, a wood shop and plenty of table space.
The other private studio, called the “Urban-X” space, serves as an incubator for emerging design entrepreneurs. The Urban-X project is made possible through A/D/O’s continuing partnership with MINI. Every six months, MINI chooses 10 startups from a long list of applicants and provides each with $150,000 to start their company. A/D/O currently supplies workspace for 50 of these entrepreneurs, and employs experts in software development, engineering, communication and design to help propel each emerging business.
A/D/O not only provides workspace for creators and entrepreneurs, but they also have a retail store, design exhibitions and community events.
“While we have business units like space rentals, paid co-working spaces, our restaurant and our design shop, at our core, we are open to the public and the design community in NYC,” Poekert said.
The shop houses chic home items like printed vases, minimalist lamps, coffee table books and wooden stools from local artisans and designers all over the world. Then there’s the ‘Designer in Residence’ program, in which A/D/O selects a team of innovators from all over the world and provides them with tools and workspace to complete their project. The most recent residents were Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves, an architect and artist duo who run creative platform, Studio Swine. With the help of A/D/O’s machinery, space and connections, the designers created a story out of various mediums including sculptures, plasma and videography, which they presented at A/D/O in January.
“Our mission is exploring the future of design so when we analyze potential collaborators and designers in residence, our goal is to work with designers who are doing new and next,” Poekert said.
In addition to design residents, A/D/O also has ongoing design exhibitions where they showcase the work of select members. The current exhibition, called “Neotenic Design,” features small furniture, sculptures and lighting fixtures made of bright colors and modern rounded silhouettes. Justin Donnelly and Monling Lee, two architects-turned-furniture-designers who run JUMBO Studio, designed the objects. The word “neotenic” refers to the childlike features of the designs, which will be on view through March 28.
Each exhibition is unique, and A/D/O often chooses designers who do unconventional things with everyday objects. “Our designers come from all sorts of backgrounds and the only common thread is their ability to create design that stimulates the mind or the senses in new and exciting ways,” Poekert said.
This spring, A/D/O will also host a series of events including talks by graphic designers and artists and an event for NYCxDesign, the city’s annual celebration of all design disciplines. The events will take place in A/D/O’s courtyard, located in back of the space.
“Our outer courtyard plays host to several evening happy hours on the weekends and becomes a go-to place for locals to come hang out and enjoy refreshments from our restaurant,” Poekert said. “Summer really is a great time to come by A/D/O.”
The free design exhibits, talks and celebration of innovation are what make A/D/O stand out as an open creative community that’s ahead of its time.
You can become a member of A/D/O and reserve studio space starting at $375 per month. apply for a membership, you can fill out a simple form listed on A/D/O’s site.
Words: Hayley Lind