Designing a WeWork | A Behind the Scenes Interview with Design Director, Cristina Crespo
I Work, You Work, WeWork
Whether you need a desk, office, or an entire floor, WeWork offers millennials, startups, and even established companies, the opportunity to work in a collaborative office space; but WeWork is not your typical office -- It offers multiple floors co-working and open office (hot desks) with city views, sunny terraces, 24-hour accessibility, free coffee and beer, and daily networking + social events.
WeWork was founded in New York (2010) by two partners, Adam Neumann, a businessman from Israel, and Miguel McKelvey, an architect from Portland. Having one of the co-founders being an architect has clearly helped drive the mission that great design is one of WeWork’s core values.
In honor of Women's History Month coming to a close, The Design Bloc has chosen to highlight two subjects close to heart: Women in design and young new gen designers making an impact.
Recently, The Design Bloc sat with Cristina Crespo, Design Director of WeWork LatAm (Latin America), to get a sneak-peak inside of what goes into designing a WeWork space, her role in expanding the WeWork brand to Latin America + Mexico, and advice for young designers, professionals, and women in the workplace.
About Cristina Crespo
Design Director of WeWork LatAm
Cristina has over 10 years of experience working at some of the top interior design firms and clients from New York, Washington DC and, Miami. Her wide range of project experiences coupled with a fresh creative energy paved the way for her powerhouse of a role as Design Director of WeWork LatAm.
She is also a fierce advocate for sustainability, innovative solutions, and community-oriented projects such as Active Design, for which she has done several lectures relating to wellness and the workplace.
Cristina's Role at WeWork
The Design Process
The design process at WeWork is a linear process whereby the designer sees the project from start to finish. From project kick-off to opening day, each WeWork takes approximately 9 months to complete; With the design concepts, graphics, and FF+E (furniture, finishes, equipment) selections that go into each WeWork - That timeline can be a daunting task, but rewarding in the end.
For the design process alone, it takes roughly 3-4 months to complete, and that includes everything. “It’s pretty fast-paced considering the size of the buildings. We have BIM’s/junior designers to set up all of the sheets and templates which help us work very fast and efficiently. We are always looking to leverage technology to improve and expedite our processes while achieving a high quality product!”
“For the first LatAm WeWork (Mexico), almost everything was a custom design, and there was no one else. I was in charge of doing the layout, managing the local architect (Gensler), doing the market research and gathering a pool of local talent that was interested on designing custom pieces for our very first space in LatAm. I was accountable for everything design and execution related– The artwork selections as well.”
Working in collaboration with Mexico’s up and coming local talent was by far my favorite experience of opening a new market. We created something that was true to the WeWork brand but culturally relevant to its new users! Varsovia 36 open its doors with a bang as it was well featured within the Mexico design industry. (See the Varsovia 36 space below)
all about the details
WeWork’s design typology and intent is to reuse underutilized buildings and transform their insides into a co-workers dream; Adaptive re-use is the present and future of design, and WeWork has done a creative job at executing.
Also, WeWork’s design principle is known for ‘honest’ with material selection and the local aesthetics of each community, while still maintaining the WeWork brand.
One thing that I’ve personally notice is that in every WeWork the wood floors are wood, the fabrics are fabric, and the plants are plants; The materials are authentic, and they continue to do this even as they scale to global locations.
To help stay true to the local environments and materials, Crespo collaborates with local industrial designers on every project to help add that local character to every WeWork.
A Designers' Advice
When asked for advice to young designers and/or women designers she states:
“My advice is to get out into the world and to not limit to the status quo of “design.” A career in design often prepares you to be a strategic thinker and approach any problem from a critical and creative angle. There’s really no limits. We need more of these leading design female voices within the industry, challenging the way we interact with our physical + digital environment.
To Cristina, it’s not just about creating a space --it’s more. As a benchmark, she often asks herself: “What am I doing as a Designer to create a positive impact in the world?” Making an impact is important to her, and she shared with us “This is one of the main reasons I joined the WeWork team.”
As a designer, myself – I agree that this is something we should all ask ourselves everyday– Positive impact is invaluable, and designing with the intent to impact the world not only makes us better designers, but it will truly make us live and work #BetterTogether.
Join the WeWork co-working fam:
If you are interested in joining the WeWork family and working in their beautiful co-working spaces around the world, feel free to sign up at our special link here: Join WeWork Co-working!