BY LINDA MARX
Bar Works Miami in the Wynwood Arts District is a stimulating environment where creative types can flourish—and it’s extremely cool to boot.
A private meditation area called Bar Zen helps the creative mind focus, and offers MP3 players for those seeking further escape. In the culinary corner, a coffee and juice bar is stocked with healthy selections from Pure Green. Colorful murals by local artists, both inside and out, inspire and stimulate. Those who belong to this clever new Wynwood-based shared space concept love its novel approach to the work day.
“Bar Works Miami not only gives you amenities that could only be afforded at a luxurious corporate office, but also provides you with the chance to collaborate with other creatives right on the spot,” says Carol Perez, a personal style and travel blogger. “Having that at your fingertips is very important, since the name of the game is networking. It also doesn’t hurt that the space is huge and offers a different vibe in every corner.”
Indeed, Bar Works Miami, which is run by its parent company CEO, Franklin Kinard, is a stylish, 6,500-square-foot, all-open space, a quiet respite where about 30 people can work comfortably at any given time within a rustic, reclaimed design scheme that’s an unusual spin on the shared workspace concept. “We wanted Bar Works Miami to be rustic, with street impressions, steel plates and reclaimed wood—nothing modern,” says Rene Antanasian, of HRBDx, Inc., a New York-based designer who created the Miami space among others around the US. “The challenge was trying to get it done quickly—in less than two months—and make it unique to Wynwood. We nailed it 100 percent.”
Unlike other shared workspace operations that are formatted for traditional business models, Bar Works understands and embraces the creative industry and its sense of place. It’s powered by the belief that creativity stimulates commerce. While shared workspaces are not a new idea, Bar Works is novel in its execution and is an affordable, inviting and inspiring workspace. It feeds its flexible space to a diverse rotation of local painters, sculptors, photographers, designers and performers. The environment encourages artists to do paintings, produce photo shoots (in private studios) and work creatively and collaboratively throughout the space.
An old warehouse when the project began a few months ago, it contained certain components Antanasian needed to tackle in the development of its new design. For example, the lighting was generic and simple, and the bleachers were tucked away. After some creative thinking, Antanasian repurposed what he needed and used different colors to separate the workspaces within the main warehouse space, such as pink, orange, purple, blue, green and red. The renovated space now offers four or five different areas in which to work. “We used different colors to breakup the rooms and spaces,” says Antanasian. “It is very unique.”
The juice bar at the main entrance is located on the left side. People on the street—non Bar Works members—can also purchase juices or smoothies from this concession, so it remains busy all day long. Part of the main area is highlighted by a huge mural, Poseidon, created by artist Jonny Popovich, who offered his ideas for the best use of art in this work environment. “This mural was an idea by the artist, and it works well,” says Antanasian. “He is a unique talent and doesn’t do the same work twice.”
Art—which, the designer says, will change on a regular basis to keep the mood and the look fresh for Bar Works members and walk-ins—dominates the design theme throughout, so there is no question that this is a den of creativity for like minds to share their ideas and projects. Reclaimed wood tables and other functional pieces of furniture add more atmosphere and authenticity to the large room. Houseplants are sprinkled throughout to help boost members’ productivity. Studies have illustrated that plants can have detoxifying benefits in interior spaces, such as increased oxygen and cleaner air. There are several varieties, some of which require more light than others, but all are easily maintained in terms of watering and manicuring and keeping them aesthetically appealing.
One notably comfortable spot is the lounge area under the mezzanine. This section is punctuated with a piece titled It Was All a Dream by Miami artist Alex Lopez. Antanasian incorporated this into a vignette with a cool green couch and patterned throw pillows, a bold throw rug and a white coffee table. In keeping with the rustic theme, he procured most of the furniture from local thrift shops. And he made the vignette look casual, comfortable and homey. “I wanted this lounge area to feel like you’re working in your own living room,” he says.
Another quirky workspace is the bleacher area, which measures more than 400 square feet. The space dazzles with a splashy mural called build by Miami street artist Nate Dee. “You can sit on high bleachers and see the whole place from here,” says the designer. “Members can work solo or as a group. The space is versatile and very cool.”
A quiet section with multicolored walls was designed for the those who prefer total peace and quiet while working. Meant for those who wish to avoid distractions of any kind, it was created with long tables made of reclaimed wood paired with sturdy chairs from thrift shops or, in some cases, purchased brand new. Laptops, of course, are welcome, and Wi-Fi and other amenities are available. “We isolated this section from the others so the workers are not disturbed by noise of any kind,” says Antanasian. “Again, we designed this area to keep the Wynwood feeling.”
Antanasian considers Bar Works Miami to be one of the most rewarding projects he has designed because of the cooperation and the unusual look and feel of the space. “This is a very unique, creative and different idea for a shared workspace,” says Antanasian. “Everything we set out to do was accomplished with no issues. The landlord was helpful so we got things done efficiently. It is very inviting so people can feel like they are working at home or coming into their own office each day.”