We all know the feeling. A last minute meeting in another town and no place to go. Yes, there are the horrible hotel lobby’s near the highway with expensive parkings, uninspired ‘design’ and bad coffee, or you join the local hipsters in a crowded & noisy coffee bar. Or take the new co-working spots: Nice, sometimes, but closed at 6 pm, no parking and not open for the typical nomad who rarely stays at one place fix.
When traveling you do find great places to meet, brainstorm & work. Together with others, in a contemporary setting, with good coffee, healthy food and free wifi. Sometimes you pay for your workstation/meeting room like at Citizen M Hotels (London), and sometimes you work for free plus a drink (like in the lobby of the hip & happening Ace Hotel (Shoreditch London).
Why was it so hard to find something inspirational in my region?
Till I got a phone call from my friend Maarten Van Gool, a colleague from my advertising past. He had big news: he started together with partner Stijn Geeraerts and project developer Serge Handcart of L.I.F.E.) a brand new concept in Antwerp, named Fosbury & Sons.
He called it a work space with a soul. A place where you want to work, all day and all night if you need. Because it feels good, it smells good and it looks good.
That sounded promising…
So when Maarten send an invite for the opening night in December 2016, I could not resist to check the place out.
And what a wonderful place did they built!
Arriving at Fosbury a Sons, you see The WATT tower, a static building with 6m high ceilings and large glass windows. The first surprise is the building entrance that’s been ‘done’ by ‘design-enfants- terrible’s’ of Studio Job. Two kitsch lightbulb lightning signs and Memphis-like bright colored patterns on walls & floors. Very fun and catchy. But is that a glimpse of the deco style you can expect at F&S? Nop.
Once you arrive at the first floor by elevator and passed the reception desk, an enormous work platform of 3000 m2 rough concrete opens in front of you. But don’t think concrete in a cold way. The many small & large spaces flow into each other and form a warm & cosy city hub. You fall in love with the venue the moment you set foot into it. The talented design team of Going East did a wonderful job by combining concrete with wood, steel, glass, textiles and lot of greens.
The entire concept reminds you of our favorite restaurant, a fine hotel you once visited, or a cosy bar you crashed with friends. The feeling is über cosmopolitan, you can’t really tell in what city or country you are in and thats a good thing in this case.
Fosbury & Sons is a members club, like they have in NY, LA or London. Basically you get a beautiful, yet professional service environment, with nice people around and a lot of funky stuff* going on. *Free to use wireless headphones of Sennheiser with noise reduction? Beauty products by Marie-Stella-Maris? A laundry service or some top notch sports lessons? All yours. And last but not least, the inspirational workspaces, any size you want.
Just to give you an idea about the member packages, here are some I certainly am going to use: NOMAD member: hop in whenever you want, 10 days full access to flexible open work space: €195 / 10 days or RESIDENT member: flexible open work space: € 295 / month / pp
What can you expect once you’re a member?
First of all you have the common spaces: Meeting rooms, sofa’s and cosy corners, focus booths, a silent room, a library full of top titles by Publisher Luster, open kitchen and bar, lobby, changing rooms and together with the F&S sport coach subtle ‘movement snacks’ are offered throughout the space. Other extra’s are the 24 hour acces, the beautiful decoration & furniture (an eclectic mix of design classics, vintage trouvailles and art installations). The art is delivered by PLUS-ONE gallery, Sofie Van De Velde Veerle Verbake. If needed you can ask for ‘on-top’ space such as access to a war room, satellite office, screening room, event space and parking. So whether you are a ‘solopreneur’, a small company, a large corporation, a start-up or a scale-up, F&S provides tailor made packages.
A last thing about the company’s original name Fosbury & Sons. It’s a tribute to Mr. Dick Fosbury, who changed the world of high jump competition. As a high school student, Fosbury had trouble with the conventional high jump “straddle” method and failed to even clear 1,5 meters in his attempts. He started tinkering with his approach, and eventually invented the now-dominant style of jumping backwards over the bar, a technique that became known as the “Fosbury Flop.” A few years later, he won high jump gold at the 1968 games, setting an Olympic record with a 2,24 meter leap. Up untill today it has become the standard jump method.
Like Fosbury, Fosbury & Sons aims to rethink something that is conventional. How can we redesign our work environment? How can we reorganise our work-life balance into harmony?That’s why they created this new inspiring work environment responding to the needs of todays generation. They believe in a human and holistic approach with a touch of rock & roll. They welcome to all those who think out of conventions, who think different and are changing the world.
The least you can say about Fosbury & Sons is that they are right on trend with this urban city member concept. Looking at some research they give on their website, things are very clear: significant shifts are appearing on the labor market. The European organisation EFIP speaks of an increase of 53% of the amount of freelancers in Belgium between 2004 and 2013. Unizo calculated that anno 2015 there are 132000 freelancers active in Flanders. In that way Belgium follows the international statistics of this global evolution. Furthermore there is an increase in small scale businesses. Companies of 2 to 8 persons is now a more common phenomenon than 30 years ago. The growing startup scenes in cities like London, Los Angeles, Copenhagen and Tel Aviv are a visible aspect of this evolution. In the USA freelancing is the ‘new normal’. This evolution significantly indicates that people are searching for autonomy. Moreover, autonomy is exactly what defines us as human beings.
The Fosbury & Sons elevator pitch? An investment of 6 million Euro for 250 new workspots, in an amazing international setting in the heart of Antwerp. If the pictures did not warm you up enough, get the hell over there and check it out for yourself. You find me somewhere working in the library, my fav spot so far. Let’s have a coffee together.
Pictures by © Frederik Vercruysse, Ivan Missinne & Kate Stockman.