A/D/O, exploring the boundaries and the future of design.

Our exploration of New York coworking scene has brought us already to a wide range of spaces. We’ve spoken here about spaces started by professionals from different background, from business(wo)men to creatives. Let’s complete the puzzle today with a new type of space. One that is free, open to all and supported by a corporate company we all know: BMW Group. In that particular case, the actual company behind the space is one of the  BMW Group: MINI.  In 2017, they opened A/D/O – a creative hub exploring the boundaries and future of design.

A/D/O, the story
Design is a structural element of the automotive industry. It does not concern just the way the cars are conceived. It also brings a philosophy to the product and gives it a look and feel that reflects a certain personality. A/D/O is a response to  the decline of the ownership of fossil-fuel-guzzling cars. With it, MINI decided to explore how their brands could be applied in other fields.
In order to experiment, they needed a space big enough to welcome designers and let them run experiments and exhibitions. In New York, they transformed a warehouse in the neighborhood of Greenpoint into a multi-disciplinary space. It gathers a restaurant, a design store, an atrium, a startup accelerator and a coworking space.
“Our aim is to be a catalyst for new and relevant work” said A/D/O managing director Nathan Pinsley to Deezen Magazine.

Some key facts about A/D/O
23,000 sqft – Started in 2017 – 1 podcast channel .
A modular space home to the coolest experiments.
Being a multidisciplinary space encompasses many challenges, the biggest one being to be modular enough to welcome at once, all the purpose intended. No surprise here if A/D/O got it right. Starting with the outside facade, which is a “reconstituted graffiti” of what has been tagged on the building across the years. Nothing has been lost, everything has been recycled. Moving on inside, the beautiful open space is divided into several areas.
The first one is the restaurant – Norman. Serving delicious cuisine, it is available for filming, private dinners and parties.

The second part of the space, is an open atrium where anyone can come and work for a few hours. The interior design is as a blank canvas – allowing designer to create whatever they want in it without being influenced by strong colors or shapes. White, concrete and black prevails around the space with a lot of natural light. Right in the center of the space, you will find a 16-foot-tall permanent mirrored skylight conceived by nARCHITECTS. Looking like a “periscope,” the rooftop mural is reflected, creating a flower-power look. It gives you the ability to view the skyline from Manhattan upside down.

Next to the atrium, there is a garden where many events are happening, including experiments on the future of living.
A/D/O also has developed a beautiful store with carefully selected design products ranging from books to vases, paintings, carpets, speakers and much more. With A/D/O mini covers different areas of design from the way we live, to the way we work or even the way we dress.

Moving on to a more “private area”
At the back of the space, there are two rooms accessible by the community only. Thanks to Thom, the community manager of the space who showed us around, we were able to see it for ourselves. The first room is Urban-X, a startup accelerator by MINI. It looks at the future of cities and accelerate startups building technologies shaping the future. As a matter of the fact, the 3 months acceleration program gives access to funding, mentors carefully selected by MINI as well as access to the coworking space designed for Urban-X.

Finally, there is one last room which is the core of A/D/O – a coworking space targeted specifically for designers. As MINI knows design does not only happen in computers, the space also offers members the ability to experiment with machines such as 3D printers, CNC, Laser cutting machine, enterprise-grade 3D printers, Risograph printer, large scale plotter and a full set of woodshop and fine finishing tools.

Bringing together the community of designers.
A/D/O organizes monthly event open to all designers in town curious to mingle with like-minded professionals. The Open House gives people the ability to see the space, discover the experiments that are currently happening and, lastly meet the current designer in residence.  
A/D/O also hosts a research programs and use their space as testing ground. One of the latest research happening in the space is about the global water crisis. Called Water Future it looks at how water can be sourced and transformed into drinkable water.
The space being so modular, it has many lives. During the day or often at night, it transform into an event space and host events of any kind ranging from talks to dinners or even screening of documentaries.

A selfie automat with
We learned, through Thom and his time with us, how a company like MINI can invest tremendous effort and time in supporting the way design influences us in everything we do. It can have a great impact and designers at A/D/O are focusing building a greater future for us all. Through A/D/O MINI offers to the city of New York a lot of new content and a new place for experimenting without boundaries.

Images copyrights: A/D/O 
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