Esra, Founder of Originn Coworking in Turkey went to Portugal in July 2017, to meet Cru Cowork and its team, through the European Creative Hubs Network and our Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P). This is her article about the experience of exchanging knowledge, creative hub to creative hub.
(Originn Coworking Izmir – CRU Cowork Porto)
Under the programme of P2P by ECHN we have visited Cru Cowork in Porto between 14th July – 25th July 2017. The reason we have chosen CRU from Porto was the similarities between Porto and Izmir , also the similarities between CRU and Originn community. CRU is an older coworking than Originn, so believed that it would be a good model for Originn yet we found it more close to us than we have expected. We would like to summarise the details about our visit in daily basis:
1st Day – 14th July Friday: In our first day @CRU we met Tania and Miguel (owners) and listened the story of CRU from them: How they started, difficulties they have been through, their income models for members or events, the approach they built the community especially their design store (as originn will open a design store too for local designers in Izmir). We also had the chance to walk through their space; how they renovated, what kind of low-cost solutions they used for infrastructure since we have similar problems of converting a very old space into a working environment. The methods they used for distributing electricity in the place was a great solution for us and we have already implemented in Originn now. We have seen their small maker space which helps them to combine two disciplines (design & art – technology) so that they can have creative workshops and introduce technological and innovative methods to various artists. Now we are also planing to have these kinds of workshops in Originn.
2nd Day – 15th July Saturday: We have visited the design and creative works market ‘Mercado Porto Belo’ which was founded by Tania the founder of CRU. It is a open market which can be visited by public during the day. The concept of the market inspired us to model a similar event series in the garden of Originn which is more than 1000 sqm. We have got the chance to meet different designers and listened their feedbacks for how the market helps them to reach the customers or to promote their brand. We also discusses other models that Tania implements with 3rd parties like city hall especially the projects for the kids (Mini Portobelo). These were very good examples which we now suggest to our city hall or municipality to develop similar concepts here in Izmir.
3rd Day – 17th July Monday: We had a day trip to Lisbon to visit the creative hubs advised by CRU team. We have been to Cowork Lisboa, Second Home, LX factory, Village Underground Lisbon. All were very nice and creatively designed spaces with full of members. It was quite impressive to see how they converted old city buildings to new creative meeting and socializing zones. We had short meetings in the spaces just to inform people about Originn and to seek for any potential cooperation in future. We have also visited Time Out market to observe the model as we had the plan to open ORIGINN FOODLAB (which is already opened) and we got nice tips for the way to design our food-lab.
4th Day – 18th July Tuesday: We had a calm working day @CRU and observed the community working in the space. We were very much surprised that all the members had their own responsibilities in the space. There was no one to clean, to cook, to give assistance or so on. Every work is done collectively there. This makes it easier to manage a space like that. This was not the case for us indeed. We used to put too much effort and money to manage our space (kitchen, toilettes, cleaning and so on) which limits our colleagues to do more of their creative work. We used to try much to deal with all kind of complain (even most of them were unrelated to us). We realized that it might me so demotivating for our team members. We listened Tania how she deals with the complains and the demands of the coworker. After our Porto trip we also changed our approach to manage the space. We are trying to train our coworkers to learn what really working together means and the tasks they also have in the space. We directed people to self-service in kitchen. Now we decreased now the number of cleaning staff hired designer instead with our spare budget.
During the day we visited OPOLAB (maker space) and had a meeting with the Joao, owner of the space, he explained us how he created a maker community (events, gatherings etc.) in Porto. We got the chance to talk about the projects in the space and also the required equipment and know how to create a maker space which is our future plan to have a solution partner and to design a makerlab within our space (we have more than 2000 sqm space so we can utilize it for different purposes). We also visited ‘District’ a renovated old building as offices and concept design shops and an event hall.
5th Day – 19th July Wednesday: We were the guest speaker of CRU ‘Sobre a Mesa’ event. All community members were there and we had the chance to introduce Originn to them. We explained about our community members, their projects and their expectations from international links and partnerships. There are many creative people among CRU members; designers mostly. We talked about their projects, and discussed the ways to manage a cooperative work between two communities. We decided to create a digital platform for our members, so that they can see each single member in the community and get in touch easily for any Project. Now, we as Originn is in the process to finalize the design of this web base platform. Once it finishes, we will add CRU members to use it and even other coworking spaces who wants to be involved.
We also had a short meeting Virginia who is in charge of Design Store @CRU. She informed us about her strategies while she position the store and choosing the designers. She also explained us what kind of furniture should be chosen for a design store which helped us a lot while we are designing ORIGINNALL MARKET (our design store in Originn).
We visited Circus Network and O Galeria which are galleries for visual arts and we got in touch with managers for any future collaboration for the visual artists in our coworking space.
6th Day – 20th July Thursday: We visited PORTO DESIGN FACTORY, which was almost the most inspiring part of our visit in PORTO. Porto Design Factory is a laboratory of ideas based on interdisciplinary work, applied research and industrial collaboration. Here, in a platform that reflects so well the P.PORTO culture, students from very different areas cooperate in the development of innovative projects with the ambition to promote an enterprising mentality through a model of education based on problem-based learning. It is a part of ‘Design Factory Global Network’. The meeting we had there with Daniela was so productive and we come to an end that we should start working to establish ‘Izmir Design Factory’ soon as we are back in Izmir, and we did it. We have explained the model to Yasar University Izmir which is our academic partner. Yasar University has many departments of design discipline (interior, industrial, graphic, interaction, etc.) They want to position them self as a leading university in design so we decided to open ‘Izmir Design Factory’ together. We already had a Skype meeting with Rui, the coordinator of ‘Porto Design Factory’ for the details to apply and to be admitted to Design Factory Global Network. Now, we will visit Porto again together with the Rector of The Yasar University in January and we will join the booth-camp in Helsinki in April to be able to submit our appliance. If everything goes as we planned we might start Izmir Design Factory in a year. CRU organized a networking night to give us a chance to meet more creative people from their community.
7th Day – 21th July Friday: We visited Oliva Creative Factory which was a kind of incubation center for textile designers. It is a Project by Municipality to convert an old unused textile factory to an enterpreneurship center. It was quite impressive and we got the chance to listen their history and projects from the director Margarida Carronda. It stood as a very good example for us to propose our municipality or city hall in Izmir for their unused places.
Afternoon we had the meeting with Fatima from the Creative Industries Center of UPTEC (UPTEC PINC) which is also a member of European Creative Hubs Network an done of our contacts from our Network Meeting from Belgrade last year. Fatima showed us the center explained the way of work there and let us meet the startups within the center. We are still in contact with some of them for any future cooperation.
When we were back to CRU, we had the meeting with Rafael Pires, the cofounder of ‘Startup Pirates’ and ‘Portugal Startups’. He explained us the dynamics of startup ecosystem in Porto, how it was in the beginning and he gave us some advises for our ecosystem in Izmir which is a newborn baby.
For the night we went to a music fest together with CRU members for building up our friendship.
8th Day – 22th July Monday: We had a meeting with Ana Novais who is a chef working in international projects and also a CRU Member. We talked more about food and agro business in Porto and startups. We explained her about ORIGINN FOODLAB (which was under consructionat that moment but now is open). So we decided to design an event for 2018 February. This cook, style and shoot event will take place in Originn incoming February. Ana will cook Porteguese Food and food designers and photographers in Originn community will style and shoot. We will also have a panel in the next day of event on Food Design (Originn is in strategic partnership to start a Food Design Programme in Yasar Univerity Izmir and first sessions will start in the beginning of February so this event is planned as a part of the education programme).
We finished the day with a last meeting with CRU people to summarise our plans and the process we will go through.