How much would you pay to work from the same office as your best client and several hundred of your closest friends, collaborators, and competitors? Five hundred dollars a month for a desk? Thirty-six hundred dollars for an office? Dror Benshetrit, the Israeli-born, New York-based industrial designer, would like to know. In September, Benshetrit plans to move his 10-person Studio Dror to the top floor of WeWork’s flagship location in SoHo, where he intends to open WeCross, a 13,000-square-foot shared office and coworking space stocked with 200 hand-picked architects, animators, model makers, and video editors, all drawn from the ranks of his past (and potentially future) collaborators, and all paying for the privilege.
The benefits of this arrangement are clear for Benshetrit, whose typical projects--including housewares for Target, luggage for Tumi, an island off Abu Dhabi, and even his own geometry--span multiple disciplines. “We’re trying to revolutionize the cross-disciplinary office,” he says, by “bringing the people we’re already collaborating with closer, in the physical sense.” He compares it to being back in school at the Eindhoven Design Academy in Holland: “When you have a lot people nearby who can help you with lots of different things at once, that’s not exactly a disadvantage.”
But what do the prospective tenants stand to gain? They can’t and won’t be expected to work full-time on Studio Dror projects because they’re not employees. They’re part of what management consultants would call Benshetrit’s ecosystem, i.e., the far-flung network of interdependent collaborators he has unusually elected to bring under one roof. What’s in it for them, he says, is serendipity--whether that means exposing them to each other’s mutually beneficial projects, or the flashes of inspiration that only come from face-to-face contact. “Every time I meet with my designer friends, there’s always this really interesting exchange,” says Benshetrit. “It’s reproducing that creative energy I’m really excited about.”
He is designing the space itself, with a layout modeled on WeWork’s own offices and coworking spaces on the floors below. Initial sketches depict Studio Dror occupying one corner of the floor while glassed-in offices for as many as a half-dozen occupants ring a large room filled with open desks, all painted white. “We’re trying to make a very clean, very simple environment that promotes these casual interactions between people,” Benshetrit says.
Now it’s just a question of convincing his collaborators that sharing an office is worth the price (which isn’t out of line with similar, albeit less curated spaces). The first invitations were dispatched a few weeks ago, “and in an ideal scenario, we’re hand-picking them from a very deep pool--the people we collaborate with now, and new talent as well,” Benshetrit says. “Either a few hundred, or maybe even a thousand people will say ‘I want to be part of it.’ We don’t know what deck of cards from which we will get to choose.”