Coworking is the new library

1 Jun

Apartment Therapy’s Unplggd.com ran a short story on coworking today, which is a lot like working in a library, except with better lighting and rent. Coming from a studio background that prvileges communal working (if not always collaborative), it’s easy to see the draw of these setups. In undergrad, I heard about a few schoolmates who had signed up for a membership to a workspace that they described as “library like,” where they could always find an empty seat and silence. At the time, content with my tiny desk space in a cavernous studio, it seemed a bit opulent and unnecessary, although secretly I envied the image of polished mahogany tables and leather wingback chairs.

Currently, a few of my friends who have just finished their masters degrees are in the process of putting together their job hunting portfolios and will often make the trek across the city (sometimes with an up to 40 minute commute from Santa Monica to Glendale) to work together in the hopes that companionship will force them to focus. With the allure of mindless web crawling and television, it’s easy to lose track of time when there’s not a definite deadline looming. The presence of someone else who can look over at any time and disapprove of your Facebooking will often guilt you in to working, at least in my experience of furtive message checking. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

It’s not all about guilt, though. In a lot of ways, working with a friend is helpful in the same way that watching a movie while you’re working does, keeping you focused and at your desk, instead of wandering around aimlessly, looking for snacks. Going to the bathroom. Taking phone calls. But it can’t be a new, interesting movie and it must be an old, familiar, mostly quiet friend. Someone or something that you’ve seen over and over again and that you need only to half-listen to. Someone that you can have tiny spurts of commentary with to keep awake, but not feel as if  you need to have an entire conversation with. This past year, I would alternate between working in my room at home and studio, switching environments whenever one began to feel too oppressive. The studio environment is a nerve wracking one, especially at GSD. It’s a bit like a pressure cooker, and from time to time, people explode and break down and it gets to the point that all that nervous, bitter energy is too much to take in and remain sane. It’s not healthy to be constantly there, and sometimes, it’s nice to put on your pajamas and curl up like a shrimp in front of your computer. Sometimes, rather than being an evil temptress, the proximity of BED is a reassuring reward and knowing that I won’t have to trudge through the icy streets at 3am is pure heaven. But working at home gets lonely real fast. Days go by and even though I live with 3 others, everyone is doing their own thing and it’s hard to drum up the energy or interest to talk to them. After three days of shrimpness, I invariably return to studio and find that I’m much more productive and alert. And on and on, and so and so. The cycle continues. Studio, home, studio, home. Sometimes, I’ll venture out with trusty MacMuffin Pro(mo) in search of new scenery. But it’s always the same three bears story: too cold, too hot, no internet.

So, the idea and business model of coworking is quite an interesting one, with its fancy digs and sometimes free coffee, and although I’m much too cheap to rent out a space, I too am supposed to be working on my portfolio this summer, so perhaps I may drop by one of them for a day visit. I’d like to apply to the Masters of Architecture II program at my school this winter (I’m currently a Masters of Landscape Architecture candidate…I hate that, like it’s an award…) and once summer ends, I won’t have any time at all to work on it, so I need to get it done pronto.

But it’s summer, and I still have a lot of lazing around to catch up on in addition to making rings and promoting the store. (GO GO GO!) During the day, when Michael is at work, I tend to just roam around the house, drifting from one room to the next, picking up a book, lying on the couch, contemplating taking a shower. At some point, I go outside and water the carrots and sweet potatoes. One gallon, two gallons. I force myself to write a blog entry. I look out the window. Look at a few Etsy Team posts and struggle to say something coherent and smart sounding. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out so well. Inactivity doesn’t become me, and when faced with unstructured SUMMER (!!!) I float away, untethered. SO many possibilities! SO much to do!

And then I end up doing nothing but reading another Haruki Murakami book that Michael has lying around (Norwegian Wood is great, After Dark less so) or looking for snacks in the kitchen drawer I’ve commandeered.

Seaweed. Yum.

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