Makeshift Society Expands


By Veronica Chavez

Photo courtesy of Don LaVange.

They say the creative adult is a child that has survived. This must be why so many creatives are flocking to The Makeshift Society, a clubhouse of sorts for those who want to hone their craft in an environment more stimulating than the average Starbucks.

In 2012, designer/architect Bryan Boyer and creative strategist Rena Tom teamed up to open up a space for the creatively inclined in San Francisco. With 1,000 square feet of space to play around in, freelancers in the Bay Area had a place within which they could grow their business that combined the comfort of a coffee shop and the productive air of an office.

Two years later, Boyer and Tom decided to expand their project into Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Under the vision of Boyer’s architecture firm, Dash Marshall, a space that was a pencil factory originally built in 1907 was converted into a shared workspace for entrepreneurs.

The Brooklyn expansion is larger than its sister in San Francisco, occupying 4,000 square feet split over two floors. In addition to desks and communal tables, the clubhouse has a kitchen, a conference room, reading nooks, “quiet booths,” a library, and a brainstorming room.

After a successful Kickstarter project, Boyer and Tom were also able to add a creative tool library to the space, offering a reference library of books and material samples, audio and video equipment, as well as art and design tools.

In addition to the physical space and tools, Makeshift Society offers workshops and classes that range from learning how to sew to showing participants how to survive in the creative economy. Classes and events work on a supply and demand system, in which members are encouraged to propose what type of events they would like to see offered.

Unlike a number of other co-working spaces that require members to be fully committed, Makeshift has pretty flexible memberships. The “Supporter” membership allows individuals to attend classes for $100 per year without having necessarily spent any time at the location, while the “Salon” membership allows freelancers to add days as they go along.

That’s not to say that most members of Makeshift opt for this type of disconnected membership. As Bryan Boyer describes to BTR, the communal spirit and possibility for collaboration are two of Makeshift’s most attractive qualities.

“The reason we created Makeshift was to give creatives the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals,” he shares, “it can also help people complete their project, when designers and photographers start working together or business-savvy members team up with entrepreneurs. It’s great.”

With so much creative opportunity within arm’s reach, Makeshift offers a playful and innovative atmosphere that simply can’t be expected of a coffee shop. They also respect the fact that sometimes people need a little alone time to play around with their art.

“When we designed the space, we wanted people to be able to choose whether they wanted to interact with others or be within their own little bubble,” Boyer explains, “that’s why we built lots of nooks, and differently-shaped spaces within the bigger space, for people to tuck themselves away.” Boyer listed the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London as well as the movie Wall-E as inspirations for the compartmentalized space.

With no plans in the near future of expanding into other major cities, for now Boyer and Tom are focusing on perfecting their creative clubhouse.