Imagine an office where people from all industries and sectors are working side by side in an open-plan industrial-inspired space. Concrete walls and big conference tables reign supreme. In the corner, an independent coffee shop serves organic Hojicha lattes. Directly opposite, a window space functions as a pop-up store, displaying the wares of one of the office’s many start-ups. Welcome to Garage Collective, a Hong Kong-based co-working space-meets-lifestyle hub which brings together interior style and business functionality in one enviably chic warehouse-shaped package. Prepare for a case of major office envy as we take a closer look.
Buoyed by the millennial desire to trade in the office cubicle for a workspace that is more fun, friendly and flexible, Garage Collective is part of a new wave of membership-based shared office spaces masterminded by founder, Elaine Tsung. Set in the urban cool neighborhood of Sai Ying Pun – an area known for its recent influx of independent start-ups – this particular hub has a different feel to the company’s other branches located in the more corporate districts of Central Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.
“Given the location and the nature and position of this space, the whole fit out is actually much younger,” explains Elaine. Cue an aesthetic which embraces raw finishes, exposed brick walls and cement flooring. “This is by far the youngest space we’ve built.”
Elaine’s love for all things homeware and interior design informed the overall look of the space. “I have always been very interested in reading different interior design magazines, so I volunteered to work with the contractors to help design the [Garage Society] spaces. Of course, it’s not only me – there’s a team of good people who work with us. But I did help out and contribute to how the spaces were designed.”
One of the most striking things about the Garage Collective space is its impressive floor to ceiling height, courtesy of the building’s warehouse origins. Clocking in at about six meters, it’s a scarce luxury in Hong Kong real estate and, according to Elaine, well worth the extensive refurbishment process required to transform the space into a habitable office for both her team and the Garage Society members.
The tall ceilings are well complemented by the full-length steel framed glass facade which floods the main space with natural light. This sense of light and space is maintained in all corners of the building, even the individual offices, thanks to the half-height partition walls and quirky window design details.
When asked what the most interesting part of the design process was, Elaine immediately refers to the initial visualization process, and the dilemma of making the most of the space whilst preserving its core essence. “You don’t want to all of a sudden convert it to a traditional office space and then ruin the vibe this space offers you.”
As such, Elaine and the construction team made a conscious decision to retain as much of the old structure and details as possible. In one of the offices, for instance, there’s an old gate that was once a back door of the warehouse. “Those old gates don’t come by too often anymore, so we thought that as long as they don’t affect our operation, lets try and retain them. Details like these are easy to demolish but not easy to rebuild.”
Looking back on the project, Elaine confesses to wanting to add even more:
“You learn through using the space that I should have done this, or that could be improved. I think we can add even more elements into the space. We are actually in the process of doing a quick upgrade. We are looking at adding in more variety to make the space more chilled and fun. At the same time, this will hopefully help with the productivity of our members.”
All in all, the Garage Collective Space is like no other office we’ve ever seen. In many ways, the thriving community spirit, relaxed playful atmosphere, and of course, the stunning design details, make it difficult to differentiate the space from a coffee shop or a cool members-only club. Now that’s the kinda office we can get behind.
What do you think of the Garage Collective space? Let us know in the comments below!
For more like this make sure to check out our video with Elaine in which she shares her top tips for creating a productive work space.