A/D/O, a new, 2,137-square-metre design hub in a former industrial building in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, grew out of a fundamental change in the way many designers work. Dwindling are the days when industrial design grads compete to join large, established firms with a steady roster of clients; increasingly, these individuals are going it alone or starting nimble collectives with friends, and initiating their own projects and businesses.
“It’s the atomization of design,” says Nate Pinsley, managing director of A/D/O, which was developed with the automotive brand Mini. “They’re in their coffee shop or home office, but they’re not necessarily getting exposed to cross-disciplinary influences. We wanted a place for designers of different disciplines to come together, to create a commons.”
The resulting interior by Brooklyn-based nArchitects is equal parts co-working space, maker space, school, gallery and clubhouse, and has everything a budding design entrepreneur might need. There are free communal work tables, dedicated desks for rent by the month,a membership-based workshop filled with digital fabrication and manufacturing tools, the Norman restaurant, a design shop, and the technology incubator Urban-X. There is also a large open space – for lectures, exhibitions and events – equipped with modular benches by MOS Architects and located beneath a periscope-like skylight that offers harvest views of the roof and skyline.
A closed office houses a designer-in-residence, the first of which was Stephen Burks. Out back, there are landscape installations by Olin, and another free-form project space. For A/D/O’s opening earlier this year, this space was taken over by the British architecture collective Assemble, which built a model factory that extruded such products as ceramic tiles for the courtyard, cups, vases and planters.
“We want to be very clear that all designers are welcome here,” says Pinsley. “This is meant to be a place of exchange, and we’d love to help people find new partners and projects.”