Thursday, 12 September 2013

Collective inspires in Camden

I visited a place I have been dreaming about for a long time. It has everything what free spirits and creative start-ups need to develop – great people in the management, great people who do similar things, couple of desks (or a bit more), positive vibes, fast internet, lockers and some other things you may need to work. It is called Camden Collective and is a unique working space open 24/7 which serves the creative community.

I worked as a freelance journalist for couple of years. As a free-spirited person I loved that style of job – getting up more or less when I wanted, planning my work the way I wanted, working at nights or in the very early mornings. It wasn’t an idyllic job – sometimes with nights shorter than 5 hours but there was something in it. That time I was dreaming about the place where I can meet other people working the same way as me, from different creative industries, emanating with a can do attitude, sociable, passionate, connect with them on professional as well as social level, have a free space to work instead of sitting in my PJ in front of my computer and loosing motivation. I found something what seemed like that in Warsaw but… it wasn’t for free. Finally I found the place in London. I am not working as a journalist at the moment but still looking for such places. And when I went to Camden Collective all those years came back to my mind. Nostalgia.
It is hard to define the Collective. It is a place that doesn’t like definition, a place with many faces. To describe it as clearly as possible, I can say that it is a charity working under Camden Town Unlimited which is a privately own business managing other businesses in the area. Collective provides free working space 24/7 for start-ups involved in creative industries: digital, food, technology, fashion, media etc. Free internet is attached to the space as well as opportunities to organise events, meetings with partners and contractors and much more. Apart from that Collective runs pop-up shops around Camden which allows the start-ups to see how they feel in retail environment as wells as job brokering for young people who want to work in creative industries.

That’s on the surface and what’s Collective under that? It’s a hub where creative minds of London meet to develop their ideas, network with each other and have fun. At the moment it is set up in two locations located 2 minutes walk from one another. One is in an old tenement and the other in tall business building. They both look different – in the tenement it is a one big room with platforms on the wheel which serve as “offices” but can be moved and arranged as necessary. To get there you need to actually know it exists. Located somewhere in the narrow mews between one building and another, you need to buzz, open a heavy door on the side of the building and then you are in. Don’t expect anything glorious or glam but definitely expect simplicity and creative atmosphere. The other site is a typical open-space office but with such oddities like old couch and armchair or cupboard. The idea is to divide the space into homey parts, like kitchen (where food business are), living room, relax area with puff-chairs.
An example of how Camden Collective works is Alex Cooper, a chef who opened secret supper club Basement Galley and provides extreme dining experience such as eating high quality dinner in an old tube carriage or a warehouse. I visited Collective on Wednesday, his first day there was just before that and by the time of my visit he already spoke with another food business based in Collective to organise a project together. He knew what other people are up to and felt like duck in the water. He finds the space perfect for work: “It has all the office supplies with stiff office atmosphere” - he says. 

And this is what attracts all those people to the Collective. From speaking to some of them, I think they most enjoy the company of like-minded people, then comes the no cost factor and many others – opportunity to network, be part of the fellowship, see such place growing and good address at NW1 is a plus as well. The last one tells other what kind of business you have. Camden Collective is open, provides opportunities and is unique... what else businesses may need and want.

No comments:

Post a Comment