A lot of different ingredients go into creating the perfect co-working space. For a start, the space should be beautiful, but also supremely functional.
It helps if there's a sense of history to the building, providing a unique atmosphere. Plus there should be a sense that you're not just about making a fast buck from renting desks, but a wider goal and visual that creatives can truly get behind.
Of course, all that will count for nothing without that elusive ingredient 'X': an atmosphere and a sense of community that makes your co-working space more than simply the sum of its parts. And that's supremely challenging to achieve in practice.
These 11 co-working spaces have somehow managed to do just that, as do these brilliant design offices (opens in new tab) from around the world. Read on, as we salute these forward-thinking businesses, which, day in, day out, inspire and drive the independent professionals that gather and work there towards true creative greatness.
01. Gather Round (Bristol, UK)
Gather Round (opens in new tab) is a co-working space created by creatives, for creatives. It was founded in 2018 by Ben Steers and Jason Smith after they’d tried and failed to find a suitable workspace for their Bristol design studio, Fiasco Design (opens in new tab).
Speaking to other creatives, they realised that they weren’t alone in their quest, so they decided to do start their own space instead. After two years of research and planning they designed and built Gather Round, a co-working space that’s been specially crafted to encourage community and collaboration.
Recommended to us by Nicolas Alpi (opens in new tab), web developer and co-founder of Cookies HQ (opens in new tab), and Lisa Hassell (opens in new tab), creative consultant and director of Inkygoodness (opens in new tab), Gather Round is located on the ground floor of the Cigar Factory, an original 1900s red brick building a stones throw from North Street in Southville.
It features both fixed and casual desks, private studios, meeting rooms, a large communal kitchen, and intimate break-out areas for meetings, events and workshops to take place in.
02. The Ministry (London SE1, UK)
A sister organisation to the famed Ministry of Sound nightclub, The Ministry (opens in new tab) is a sumptuously designed shared workspace converted from an old Victorian printworks in London, SE1.
Four floors of light, spacious offices, and two floors of facilities add up to a place that’s home to a buzzing and vibrant community of creatives and entrepreneurs.
Recommended to us by Jules Beazley (opens in new tab), agent and co-founder of Create Zine (opens in new tab), The Ministry is aimed at “the artistic and the innovative” and their cultural programming celebrates underground, homegrown talent, and thought-provoking talks and events.
You'll also find here London’s longest copper bar, a 39-seat cinema, private sound studios, gym, a cafe and private dining rooms, an outdoor heated garden with bar and a welcoming dog policy.
There’s even a Tequila and Mezcal bar in the public restrooms. You certainly won’t find that in your local Starbucks.
03. Second Home (Spitalfields, London, UK)
Second Home (opens in new tab) is a chain of visually stunning co-working spaces stretching from Los Angeles to Lisbon to London. They have four offshoots in the UK capital, at Holland Park, Clerkenwell, London Fields and Spitalfields, and if we were forced to choose a favourite we’d probably pick the latter, although it's a close-run thing.
Designed by Spanish architects Selgascano (opens in new tab), Second Home Spitalfields is a mix of visually stunning workspaces created for individuals and teams, near the famous Brick Lane area of London.
Recommended to us by freelance design director David Moloney (opens in new tab), it aims be a “workspace as creative as you are”, and include a rooftop roaming space, thousands of plants and trees, cool breakout spaces, a light-filled cafe, a bookshop, and an event space for up to 200 people.
04. PLATF9RM (Brighton, UK)
PLATF9RM (opens in new tab) in Brighton and Hove offers contemporary workspaces that enable its members to flourish through collaboration.
Members get access to a range of desk space, from collaborative and shared working environments to private office rooms. There's also a programme of educational and social events, encouraging people to connect and reinforce the collaboration the space is designed for.
Set up in 2016, its co-working space has grown to over 800 members across both the Brighton and Hove sites.
“I've been working out of @platf9rm in Brighton for a few months, and it's very thoughtfully designed,” says Tom Prior (opens in new tab), freelance digital product designer and co-organiser of UX Camp Brighton (opens in new tab). “It’s friendly, bright and the staff are lovely,” adds freelance copywriter, editor and proofreader Matt Chittock (opens in new tab).
05. The Guild (Carlisle, UK)
The Guild (opens in new tab) is a shared office space in Carlisle offering co-working and hot desking to help bring companies and creatives closer together.
It also hosts monthly social and business events, from going out bowling to peer-to-peer sessions aimed at turning business problems into opportunities.
“I frequently work from Guild Carlisle and it's lovely,” enthuses freelance web developer Dan Matthews (opens in new tab). “We even have our own piece of street art on the side, courtesy of Austrian artist TABBY (opens in new tab)."
06. Tribe (York, UK)
Recommended to us by York-based freelance designer Grace Abell (opens in new tab), Tribe (opens in new tab) has a bit of an early 90s rainbow vibe going on, as you can see from the picture above. But that’s not the only thing that makes it stand out.
Tribe is York’s first social incubator, providing space and support for businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators. In other words, unlike most co-working spaces, you can only become a member if you have a social purpose and do something good for the wider community.
The interior has an authentic, industrial feel, with lots of different desk options, all housed in a Grade 1 listed building, along with a bike shelter and free fresh coffee, biscuits and fruit.
07. Fueled Collective (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Fueled Collective (opens in new tab) has five locations across Minneapolis, St Paul and Chicago, but it’s the Minneapolis Downtown space that’s made the most impact on Carolyn Porter (opens in new tab), graphic and type designer and author of Marcel’s Letters (opens in new tab). “It’s been converted from the former Minneapolis Grain Exchange, and it's stunning,” she enthuses.
But it’s not just about historical good looks. Offering co-working memberships for freelancers and remote workers, alongside private and semi-private workspaces for businesses with employees, the ethos of Fueled Collective is all about encouraging a collaborative environment for productivity, networking and socialising.
The concept is founded on the idea of bringing together work life, nightlife, events, and most importantly, people, in one place. In their own words: “You can work in an entrepreneurial community, connect at our social club, or host events and meetings that make a real impression.”
08. 1909 (West Palm Beach, Florida, USA)
1909 (opens in new tab) is a non-profit collective of creators who believes that if they work together, their ideas, projects and innovations will better the community. “We are unapologetically experimenting,” they explains. “We are a place for the process, the mess, the imperfection. We are a place for the unknown to become known.”
Recommended by Jenni Schwartz (opens in new tab), creative director at Solmark Creative (opens in new tab) and founder of Creative Mornings Palm Beach (opens in new tab), this gorgeous-looking workspace has been deliberately crafted to inspire creative breakthroughs.
And to be blunt, if you just want to keep your head down and do your work, they don’t really want you there. “Don’t join 1909 because you need a cool place to work,” they stress. “Join because you're ready to be part of something bigger than yourself.”
To help you achieve this, 1909 offers a community space for creation and collaboration; a mentorship platform to connect you with advisors and expanders; a startup accelerator; and a series of community gatherings for art, technology, wellness, and music innovators.
09. Starspace 46 (Oklahoma City, USA)
"Check out what this neat little group has done in this tiny city of ours," the folks behind media collaboration and project management app Cage (opens in new tab) told us. Well, we did, and we very much like what we see.
Starspace 46 (opens in new tab) is Oklahoma City's co-working community for all things entrepreneurial and tech. Offering flexible coworking spaces, meeting rooms, and small offices for rent, it's a place where technologists, investors, designers, entrepreneurs and dreamers can all meet, collaborate, share and create new ideas and new businesses.
Perhaps most importantly, StarSpace - like many similar hubs around the US - aim to help convince tech-minded Oklahomans to stay in their own area and build something new and exciting there, rather than migrate to existing hubs like Silicon Valley.
10. Crew Collective Cafe (Montreal, Canada)
Many freelance creatives don’t ever use co-working spaces, and prefer the informality of workings in a cafe. But you can never be quite sure what kind of environment you’ll find there from day to day, and boisterous kids, disruptive teens, or raucous groups of adults can often combine to ruin your mojo.
So how about a cafe that’s also a co-working space? That’s exactly what Crew Collective Cafe in Montreal has to offer, allowing you to “work by the month, the hour or the coffee”.
Recommended to us by Noemi Stauffer (opens in new tab), founder and curator of the Fresh Fonts newsletter (opens in new tab), Crew Café is open to anyone and free to enter. But if you’d like to become a member of the Collective, or work in a private meeting room, that’s easy to do too. In short, it's an imaginative response to the current trend of viewing work and workspaces in less formal and more flexible ways.
The cafe is owned and operated by people with tech company roots, and that’s obvious through the integrations that you’ll find in the space, from online ordering and delivery to your spot, live-updating menus, online meeting-room bookings, and Slack channels for members.
All this, and you’re in quite sumptuous surroundings, too: on the ground floor of 360 St. Jacques, the original Royal Bank of Canada headquarters built in 1928, a lovely architectural echo of old Montreal style.
11. The Work Project (Singapore)
Looking for truly high-scale co-working? Then The Work Project (opens in new tab) has you covered. Its award-winning co-working spaces in Singapore and Hong Kong consistently make ‘Best of’ lists by the likes of Forbes and Huffington Post, and for good reason.
Filled with the kind of touches you’d normally only see in luxury hotels, these workspaces are both beautiful in form, and high-performance in function.
Our favourite has to be the Asia Square Tower space in Singapore, which covers a majestic 41,000 square feet and features a first-of-its-kind vertical garden landscape, by renowned botanist Patrick Blanc (opens in new tab) and art installation by Gallery HUUE (opens in new tab).