You have your preconceptions of shared workspaces. You have ideas of what bakeries should look like and what they should sell, too. Put them together, and you get a good idea of what a lot of shared workspaces across London can offer. But be prepared to alter those thoughts ever so slightly. As Benk + Bo – the shared workspace come-yoga-studio-come-sit-down-café-spot-come-quick-dip-in-and-out-coffee stop – is a creative space with a difference. It looks pretty good, too.
Having stripped all three storeys of the original 1960s Brutalist building to their concrete core, owners Antony Burger and Mariell Lind Hansen set about infusing the space with an aesthetic that’s equal parts minimal Scandinavian and mid-century modern. Benk + Bo’s multi-functional workspace shows that there is a still a number of hidden gems waiting around the corner in the capital if you just scratch beneath the surface.
Nestled in between Spitalfields and Liverpool Street Station, Benk + Bo is the brainchild of Mariell and Anthony who met in 2010 and have been hosting a plethora of events and every day meetings since opening its doors under a year ago.
Mariell and Anthony’s aim for Benk + Bo sounds like a simple one; to create an eco-system that brings people together from different disciplines to work, make, learn, share, ideas and collaborate. The reality is anything but.
Meaning ‘bench’ and ‘live’ in Norwegian, a nod to Mariell’s native country, Benk + Bo is housed in a beautiful mid-century building with aesthetics that very much lean to quintessential Scandinavian design. Its array of breakout rooms – including the piano room – alongside its eclectic range of mid-century furniture and just the right amount of plants to not feel over-bearing, give it an authentic, lived-in feel that not many creative workspaces share.
Taking a hands-on approach with the design, and overseeing the daily running of the project, the creative duo has nurtured a unique community spirit; one inspired by the back-to-basics essence of the rural Norwegian island of Mariell’s formative years. Answering to a new legion of workers who want to operate away from the confines of a desk, Benk + Bo’s organic growth is down to the fact that its more than just an office space. Select artists are invited to exhibit throughout the year, you have access to the yoga room upstairs, a couple of secluded meeting rooms and the bustling café, too.
Benk + Bo is everything you’d hope a multi-functional work-café-bakery-hub to be, just without too much of the smug-factor. Any weekday morning the main café area is buzzing nicely, not overly busy, which is the perfect breakout to work relax. Especially when it comes to enjoying a coffee or the fresh baked bread that’s prepared every morning. Although, we do recommend the homemade muesli, too.
Visit Benk + Bo at 4-6 Gravel Lane, London, E1 7AW. For more information, visit the Benk + Bo website.
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