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By Shannon Kim, Vice President, Hospitality

February 27, 2024

When you think of "Co-working Space," what's the first thing that comes to mind?

In a recent design session, one of our clients summed it up perfectly: "Hospitality!" It's fascinating to see how co-working has evolved since its inception in 1995. The first official co-working space is generally considered to be "C-base," founded in Berlin, Germany. While it may not fit the modern definition of co-working spaces, C-base laid the groundwork for the concept by providing a shared workspace and fostering collaboration among individuals interested in technology and creativity.

Fast forward almost two decades, and the co-working landscape has undergone significant changes. Terms like "Digital Nomad" and "SEO" are now part of our everyday vocabulary, while the pandemic has completely reshaped how we view workspaces. Today, roles like "Social Media Manager," "UX Designer," and "Content Creator" evoke images of individuals working from cafes, lounges, or even the beach—quite a departure from the traditional cubicle setup where colleagues remain strangers for years.

With remote work dynamics and the evolving nature of our professional lives, co-working spaces have become essential. Hotels, recognizing this shift, have embraced the concept, redefining what it means to "work from anywhere."

Similar to how hospitality design creates memorable experiences, co-working design thrives on serendipity. Picture a freelance writer immersed in her work, a startup founder brainstorming with a UX designer, and a digital nomad enjoying a chai latte—all within arm's reach. The layout, lighting, and flow of these spaces are carefully orchestrated to encourage such interactions, much like choreographing a dance where every step matters.

Some hotels are transforming their lobbies, restaurants, and lounges into dynamic co-working hubs. These spaces offer high-speed internet, comfortable armchairs, and well-equipped meeting facilities. Initiatives like Marriott's "Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy" and Hilton's "Workspaces by Hilton" exemplify this trend.

In both hospitality and co-working, the entrance sets the tone for the experience. A warm welcome, a friendly smile—it's the beginning of a fabulous and productive day. Designers play a crucial role in crafting these moments, using materials, scents, and artwork to create a sense of belonging.

Both hotels and co-working spaces prioritize guest comfort and efficiency, offering amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi and printing services. Culinary offerings, ranging from artisanal coffee to gourmet meals, keep guests energized throughout the day. Sustainability takes center stage, with innovations dedicated to environmental stewardship and guest wellness.  Carefully selected design elements mirror the brand’s identity, whether it leans towards sleek and modern or embraces a cozy and rustic aesthetic. As workplace trends continue to evolve, both the travel industry and hospitality spaces adapt to meet the changing needs of professionals.

Gone are the days of empty hotel lobbies. Modern travelers seek vibrant spaces where they can socialize, relax, dine, and work comfortably. Hotels like Ace Hotel, The Hoxton, and Zoku Amsterdam have mastered the art of blending hospitality with amenities to create inviting environments. Similarly, WeWork has revolutionized the co-working landscape with its focus on community, flexibility, and design aesthetics, or Convene, who offers high-end co-working and meeting space solutions in a hospitality-driven environment designed to enhance collaboration and productivity. 

At the heart of hospitality and co-working spaces is human connection. Designers understand the importance of creating spaces that cater to people's needs and rituals. As the ways of our work continue to evolve, so do the roles of designers. We're not just creators of aesthetics; we're creators of environments that enhance the human experience in space.

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