Aug 27, 2018
In the mid-90s, Jay Chiat, owner of Chiat-Day, a renowned New York ad agency, hired world-famous Italian architect and interior design Gaetano Pesce to create a new office for his staff of creatives.
Chiat was after something more comfortable than cubicles, more collaborative than water coolers. He wanted an open space, an office "without paper."
With that simple instruction, Pesce created what we now know as the open office. Moveable tables and chairs took the place of cubicle walls. Computers and cell phones replaced the paper. The staff was encouraged to manage their own workflow and to interact with their colleagues to boost creativity—an in-office coffee shop, comfortable couches and coffee tables were the catalyst.
Even though that groundbreaking Chiat-Day office designed by Pesce is no longer in existence, the open office concept has more than survived. It has thrived and evolved. Co-working spaces have sprouted up in urban areas across the country, as well as right here in Honolulu. A true reflection of the 21st-century work environment, young people are choosing to share common work areas and work collaboratively within networking communities, extending digitally to their counterparts across the world.
BoxJelly was the first co-working space in Honolulu. Established in 2011 by "enzyme" Rechung Fujihira in the back of his mother's home furnishings store and design gallery, BoxJelly was more like an art gallery than office. With Rechung's knack for networking—he was comfortable speaking with anyone, from a first-time business owner just out of college to the CEOs of Hawaii's largest corporations—BoxJelly flourished and expanded into two spaces adjacent to the Whitebox, BoxJelly's original space.
"It's not just Honolulu creatives that have embraced co-working, but people all over the world," Fujihira says. "During their infancy, co-working spaces were mostly populated by creatives, but now it's from one- or two-man shops all the way to huge corporations that use co-working spaces. About five years ago we had a lot of startup energy emanating from the space. Now we are much more diverse in our community, in the types of people and companies that become a members."
Rechung caters to all types of businesses through the curated spaces at BoxJelly. The Phone Booth is a one- to two-person soundproof space for Skype meetings, phone calls or audio needs. The Hotbox is a versatile space with comfy couches and modern furnishings, a place for seminars and presentations. And there's the Whitebox—the room that started it all—an open-slate meeting room with an overhead projector and dry erase walls for corporate training or social gatherings.
BoxJelly is located just west of Ward Village in Kaka'ako. Rechung prefers the locale over the Downtown area for its accessibility and vibrant energy from neighboring artists and professionals. There's a collaborative vibe that encapsulates Kaka'ako and BoxJelly is not only a reflection of the neighborhood culture, it's a space that is helping to define it. "Each space has it's own character and culture," Fujihira says, "We've been cultivating ours for over seven years now, so it has a patina to it."
There are several co-working spaces spread across Downtown and Kaka'ako, each supporting a diverse group of professionals tapping into a more collaborative approach to business. Ke Kilohana, a new, reserved housing development catered toward Honolulu's thriving workforce, is slated for its own co-working space. When the tower is completed, The Hub will serve as a creative, open space for work and networking, right in the heart of Ward Village.
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