The 21st century’s work space can seem like a soul-sucking, dry environment, without any room for collaboration and less for imagination. We engage with work like it is a jail sentence where our ideas and speech must conform to strict guidelines. However, places like NextSpace and Google have created co-working spaces in which people collaborate to nurture different talents, techniques, and a little bit of friendly competition.
Piero Formica of Harvard Business Review reminds us that before there were co-working spaces there were Renaissance “bottegas” of 15th century Florence; workshops where various artists came together to nourish other artists and their ideas. They even included engineers, craftsman, sculptors, anatomists, mathematicians and architects among many others. The result of this collusion was a spring of knowledge that fostered innovation of aesthetic and social and economic values.
Formica explains that the “bottegas” were synergistic; each independent artist came together to ignite one wholly formed idea. Masters would reside over the work of others, to spot new talent, broker connections, and mentor younger artists but he would never control or as Formica puts it “define other’s work”.
According to Formica, “bottegas” had three major selling points; turning ideas into actions, fostering dialogue and facilitating the convergence of art and science. Firstly, they would help transform ideas into reality. Secondly, they in their own, 15th century way would network; share ideas and converse without limitation by company policy. And thirdly, they encouraged the trans-disciplinary work spaces where people of different specialties worked together, much unlike our compartmentalized work spaces today.
Formica believes that applying a Renaissance workshop structure to work spaces today will foster the same kind of growth, creativity and innovation we saw during the Renaissance.
Workville is a modern example of a 15th century “bottega”. It is located in New York near Times Square and Bryant Park. The co-working space offers move-in ready offices, shared offices and open desks, as well as cafes and three outdoor terraces to facilitate success of different businesses. Even the lovely building located at 1412 Broadway, 21st Floor is designed to foster a creative atmosphere.
The Renaissance ignited a change in human society, a change that brought innovation, enlightenment, and art to the world. With the creation of co-working spaces like Workville, ideas can merge to achieve successful businesses and maybe even progress social and economic values once again, perhaps even eliminating those dry, monochromatic work days.