If you live in the East Bay and can work from a laptop, you’re in for a treat. Meet CoBiz, a state-of-the-art coworking hub that is energizing the creative community and revitalizing downtown Richmond. It’s a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and local dreamers have access to office space, diverse community events, business acumen, and more. It’s a launch pad and incubator, a safe haven, and hive of ideas and innovation.
That’s design with a great cause.
When the investors approached me about working on this space, I knew I wanted to help with their mission, and I knew the right design could make all the difference...
We were tasked with this 9,000 square foot blank canvas, a limited budget based on size of the space, and the investors’ wishlist of:
- Large open collaborative/co-working spaces
- Private offices
- Conference rooms
- Flexible space that could host community events and classes
Usually, this is where I show you the “before” photos, but I’ll let you imagine a huge open, warehouse-looking space. White walls. Steel. No personality or warmth.
Here’s how we transformed it...
We wanted the space to immediately make a first impression that says, “Come on in, you’re in the right place.” Just beyond the front doors, we created this welcoming space with a small receptionist’s desk, sofas for waiting (for appointments), and a kitchen/bar area where visitors can get a boost of caffeine… or three.
And to make your lunch breaks even more convenient, the co-working space has a second entrance to an attached building with a food court.
Kitchens are a social place in a home, and I think that’s true for a coworking space, too. It’s like a local hangout, where visitors from all different walks of life and careers come together to rest, chat, and replenish their energy.
Our vision was to create a high functioning space for the day-to-day work environment (hello, branded mugs, coffee, and specialty drinks), but we also wanted it to have the capacity to be used for catering and larger events (hello, wine and dine).
The neon sign we created is actually my favorite part of the space. “Pride and Purpose” is the slogan of the city of Richmond, and we wanted it to be the first thing you notice when you enter the space.
Turn around and you’ll be greeted by this custom graphic lettering made from steel, moss, and an organic, creative vibe. Which brings us to...
This open, collaborative area is functional and vibrant but also flexible enough to host big events. Moving past the front desk, you have several options…
You could take a seat on this extra-long custom modular sofa (under the CoBiz sign), great for group gatherings. We’re proud to say that all custom items were made from local East Bay or SF vendors.
You could pull up a chair at one of many tables, which have custom green steel legs for pops of color. We also incorporated electrical outlets in all tables, for easy use. Nothing kills a workday faster than a dead battery.
Or, you could slide into this fabulously patterned (if I do say so), booth-style seating with energy-inducing greenery. Now this is the heart of the space!
We were going for a modern vibrant design esthetic, so we know that we had to be particular about sourcing our furniture pieces and decor elements. The planter boxes in the reception area were custom made for this space with wheels, so CoBiz staff can move them around and reorganize the space when needed for large events. Cool, right?
Last but not least, bar style seating upstairs (with a great view of these modern pendants) offers yet another option for seating. What’s behind the doors on the right? Stick with me...
Colorful Conference Rooms
Conference rooms were on the investors’ wishlist, and of course a community workspace needs them. We designed not one but two large conference rooms, one on each floor. Contrary to the typical stale, sterile conference room feel, we decided to make these into art...
1st Floor Conference Room
The downstairs conference room is the larger one, and we commissioned a local muralist to paint these fun and colorful stripe patterns on the walls. They add instant energy, creativity, and fun to whatever meeting is going on in this space. (Count me in.)
The space can also be used as a private event area, since all tables are collapsable and can be moved to the side. Bonus.
2nd Floor Conference Room
The upstairs conference room is slightly smaller but still features a unique esthetic. We opted for this fun black and white commercial wallpaper that gave the space a 3D feel.
To continue the theme of community support, all art pieces across this conference room and other rooms in this coworking space were purchased from NIAD, a Richmond-based art center for adults with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities. We also used framed images of Richmond and the East Bay throughout to celebrate the area.
There are also several smaller “blank canvas” conference rooms that businesses are able to rent and brand on their own. Who doesn’t love a little creative freedom??
Last but not least…
The people behind the endeavor!
These passionate people are the beating heart of CoBiz and their vision to revitalize the community is one I have no doubt they will achieve. I’ve had so much fun working with them on this design project, and I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things they, and the Richmond creative community, will accomplish in these spaces.
How about you? Whether you are a creative entrepreneur, a tech expert, or simply thinking of starting your own business, believe me, the space you work in is just as important as the actual work you do.
An office space that boosts your creativity while fostering community will change the way you work for the better, whether you’re coming to CoBiz to get it done or designing your own incredible space.
Wondering what your space can do for you? Let’s chat about it.