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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Venkova

Design Crushes-Benk+Bo London

Did you know I like design and greatly appreciate it? I'm joking, of course you knew, and I guess you are here because you are just as obsessed as me and trust me to give you a good portion of inspiration (unless you are my mum who is just always here-whenever I force her to be here actually 😅, to support me and occasionally edit my spelling mistakes or formalise my odd utterance... thanks mum!)

Today we are back in London (not surprised...) and we are visiting a very special place, which has been on my radar for quite a while. Welcome to Benk+Bo.

The difficulty here is, it’s open during the week and unfortunately closed during the weekends, therefore if you are a working adult (working in an office, i mean) you might find it hard to spare a couple of hours, hop on the tube and get yourself all the way to White Chapel.

For me the long-awaited visit only happened after I left my job at the time and found myself in a little bit of a 'holiday in London' situation, when I could freely explore the city and fall in love with its weekly magic.

So, Benk + Bo, what is so special about it? Let me introduce you to the concept first. Benk+Bo is a project inspired by the love of hosting and community.

Benk + Bo means “workbench” and “a place to live” in Norwegian, embodying our dream to support and nurture passion and potential in people by creating a space that is inclusive and diverse. A place in London where you can feel at home and welcomed no matter where you are from.

Share friends Antony Burger and Mariell Lind Hansen, who have brought the space to life.

Yes, you guessed it, another multifunctional co-working space that popped on the London map. Work environment is indeed changing and what better way to support it than creating a yet another inspirational place for creatives to collaborate and socialise with like minded people.

Co-working spaces are changing the way we look at traditional offices and really shaping the cities nowadays.

I remember finishing my final major project at uni speaking of this new concept and I'm so glad to see it happening more and more and not only in London, but in other cities around Europe too, even my dear hometown Sofia. There is something extremely positive about mixing disciplines and people, encouraging them to collaborate, especially in times where we are more and more disconnecting from each other.

Approaching the new 20s (can you believe it!), I strongly believe that one of the things we will remember from the 10s of the 21st century would be the significant change in the way people work. I am excited to see how the concept further develops and what comes next.

We are talking a lot about biophilia and sustainability recently, climate change and innovations, perhaps we would move our workspaces to gardens and parks, or mix living with working and studying spaces in order to save resources and make the most of building spaces.

Would that make us slow down on architecture and embrace the challenge of making the most of what we already have? Adapting and reshaping our homes to fit our needs, invting people to our homes and providing them with a space to work in? Is that even possible? How healthy would that be physically and psychologically? Or perhaps we would move back to rural areas and the countryside? What are your guesses?

That’s a very wide subject to discuss, shall i do that another time? Would that be interesting for you to read more about? Let me know! For now let's get back to Benk+Bo and why it quickly became a design crush of mine...

Partly I fell in love with the space, because it made me think of the future and the direction that the design industry has taken and partly because, well... the 'DIY' interior... kind of says it all... visually It was love of first sight!

The space is distributed evenly across the three floors of a beautiful Brutalist building (and I love a well maintained and conserved concrete building, used to its maximum potential) a couple of streets away from Spitelfields market and the buzzing Brick Lane.

The interior offers open workspaces, a yoga studio, meeting room and even a piano practice room (calling all the musicians-and Vickie yes, I am talking to you here!) You could also find facilities for events and shoots. Plus the on-site kitchen and bakery provides the Benk + Bo cafe with delicious and very glam looking plant-based lunches and treats, as well as catering for in-house events.

The space is quirky and creative, playful and very very flexible. Entering you are greeted by the cosy cafe area-a very organic, nature inspired and filled with light space. A long sitting bench invites you to grab a coffee and have a chat with a friend or perhaps a colleague. If you decide to grab some food you are very welcome to move to the lounge area, where you can enjoy your delicious meal, while catching up on emails or a few blog posts for that matter ;). Just keep in mind that the access to free wifi is limited to 2 hours only. And is a smart and unobtrusive way get people to get a membership or visit more often. After all business is business and we should respect it.

The interior-once again very light, filled with plants and cool artwork. The choice of furniture is classic mid-century modern, gathered from here and there, funky and full of character.

I would recommend sitting on the bench, overlooking the street and passing by strangers surrounded by a rich selection of greenery and plants . The feeling-sitting in a park or garden somewhere disconnected from the hectic world outside, should definitely motivate and inspire you to be more productive, as Biophilia experts suggest. Give it a try!

If you do get a membership you’d most likely sit in the lower ground area, which is a lot quieter. Plus you get the chance to enjoy a pretty break-out very bohemian looking spot just under the main staircase.

So, what do you think? Or shall I ask, when are we going?


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