The Idea Collective – at the Institute

We’re super excited about our latest studio project – the Idea Collective. It’s moved beyond the idea stage and is now in the building stage (aka conception and labour!). After a year sharing a studio with Ink Creative and Handle PR, we’d fallen in love with the idea of shared working spaces and decided to set up a new space of our own. But rather than it just be the Hello Idea studio with other people subletting OUR space…we wanted it to have an identity of its own, with everyone coming together as a more equal collective.

When we came across a space above the Footscray Mechanics’ Institute, it seemed like the perfect place to start the Idea Collective. Mechanics’ Institutes began in the 1820’s as a largely philanthropic exercise, informed by a belief that the whole of society benefits by a well educated populace. They were set up to provide higher education to the working classes and also give them somewhere to go apart from the pub! They usually had a library and often had a billiard room.

The Footscray Institute began in 1857 but the current building at 209 Nicholson St was built in 1913. The large billiard room on the top floor was divided in half many years ago and let to a law firm who also occupied most of the top floor. Although the old law firm is long gone, somehow the original hand painted gold lettering of the partners’ names survives on the glass windows on the Napier St side of the building and is beloved by locals. The space we will be using for the Collective is what used to be the billiard room. Well – half of it. The other half is still the billiard room, which we’re delighted about! So, if you’re looking at the building from Nicholson St, the three windows on the right are ours and the three windows on the left are the billiard room. To get upstairs, you enter from the back of the building on Napier St. Once inside, you walk up a wide dark wood staircase and at the top, the antique glass panelled door leads to our space! It’s all strongly reminiscent of an old detective agency. Very film noir. What a gem! We had to have it.

The Idea Collective now had a home. Our challenge was how to clean up an extremely shabby, aged office fit out and design a space that we could happily work in with other creatives, and also comfortably bring clients into…without spending a fortune and losing the very quirk and charm that attracted us to the space to begin with. It’s quite a job! But we love a challenge and it’s really a very enjoyable process creating something new like this. Although maybe talk to us next week after we’ve ripped up the carpet and actually seen the floor boards. The bits we’ve seen so far look fantastic! A gorgeous dark red hardboard. But we haven’t seen it all yet as the carpet is still in place while we paint.

Anyway the search now begins for the right people to share the space. It will officially open at the start of July but expressions of interest are being taken before then.

We’re still working out some of the details, but essentially there’s going to be about 8 desks available for full time “members” (member is a much nicer word than tenant, don’t you think?) and a couple for part members (hotdesking) in the approx 75 m2 space. The desks are nice and big with a top area of 800 x 1600mm. A good chair is provided as well as a matching under-desk locker and everyone will have shelf space. We are keeping some of the old internal office walls while removing their doors so the place feels open, while still having nooks – or different zones – and walls to stick things on. There is a basic kitchenette with a sink, bar fridge, microwave etc. There will be a dedicated meeting room (with doors!) which can be booked by members. Access to the space will be via a keyless entry system so it will be very safe. We are just around the corner from Footscray station with lots of good places to eat and get great coffee. As soon as possible, there will be an Idea Collective website which will feature short profiles of the members with links to their own websites.

Does that sound good? If so, you might be just the person to join the space. We want to build a hub of creative people from different streams of the communication field. You might be an art director or illustrator or copywriter or web developer or photographer. We might collaborate at times or just be someone to smile at when you get to the office in the morning.┬áThe main thing is to find other people from related fields who enjoy the space and want a sense of community in their workplace. If you’re interested, send us an email with your contact details, telling us a bit about yourself.



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