Whether he's designing expandable luggage for Tumi or an entire island off the coast of Turkey, each project Dror Benshetrit and his design studio undertake demands a unique approach. The same goes for his latest project, WeCross, a creative lab in New York City that brings creative innovators across disciplines into a shared workspace. When we first caught word of the project, we were eager to see how it might evolve. Now, having visited the gutted space in August and again earlier this week, Dror's vision for the WeCross workspace is starting to come into focus.
Although Dror had been toying with the shared work space concept for years, the necessary variables never seemed to come together. That is, until nine months ago, when Studio Dror was approached by WeWork, a nationwide provider of shared office spaces. Dror and his design team became partners in creating a design specific floor in WeWork's Soho West building, which already housed multiple floors of collaborative workspaces. "Simply because we have always been cross disciplinary in our approach, portfolio and interests, they asked us if we were interested in starting something like this," explains Dror. "We jumped right away and said, 'Of course.'"
In addition to designing the layout of the 13,000 square foot space, Dror was tasked with filling the floor with tenants. Acting as curator, Dror began accepting applicants early last summer, intent on recruiting individuals and companies that shared an interest in innovation and collaboration. Two of the earliest to sign on were Haworth and Flos, who sponsored furniture and lighting for the space. The remaining office equipment was supplied by Dror, who provided QuaDror geometry sawhorses for desks, and past furniture commissions to furnish the common areas.
"For us, it's very important to keep a healthy mix of people that are more fresh and directly from the academic world, and people that have some years of experience working in their field," Dror says of the applicant selection process. Compared to other industries, Dror feels the world of contemporary design is relatively small, and that bringing architects, product, landscape and interior designers into the same space creates an open-source environment where collaboration grows organically. "So many independent contractors that we are constantly collaborating with are now going to come into this physical social network," Dror explains.
As for the raw elements of the space itself, Dror designed the walls to be nearly transparent, allowing visitors to step out of the 8th floor elevator and see through the entire space, all the way to the windows on the far side. Dror feels the physical transparency of the space will foster collaboration. "Innovation is a key word in our vocabulary," says Dror, "and I think it will be a key word in this space."
WeCross—the new home of Studio Dror—is now officially open, with a significant portion of the space already claimed. Aside from interior design heavyweights Flos and Haworth, other tenants include fashion photographer Nigel Barker, sustainably driven product design studio Buzzispace (who is also contributing furniture), OneButton, Flatcut fabricators, and the WeWork creative team, among others. For more information visit Studio Dror and WeCross online.
Images by Graham Hiemstra