Makeshift Brooklyn weeks 013-016

With 2014 just days away, we have been spending time reflecting on the current state of Makeshift and thinking about what makes us unique. We’re lucky to have a community that is strong and growing, and at the same time comprised of members who themselves have a wide reach. Here’s where we’re at:

Hundreds of members in San Francisco

9,000+ combined Twitter followers among the official Makeshift and founders’ accounts

760,000+ combined Twitter followers among all of our members

As a community with online and offline aspects, Makeshift is unique in this sense. Our clubhouses in SF and Brooklyn (soon!) carve out room for people to meet, work together, and experiment. Our larger online following means that we’re able to extend the Makeshift spirit to places where we don’t have a clubhouse yet, and to be influenced by these wider conversations as well.

Makeshift is stronger than its impressive numbers alone; our community is also enthusiastic and supportive. This means a lot when you’re working as much as we’ve been these past weeks. We’re doing our best to ensure that Makeshift is more than tiny real estate.


As the Kickstarter rewards make their way into the world backers have been sending images of their items in the wild, like this one from Georgia and Alan.

So many things are going on, people. That’s what we’ve been up to: so. many. things. For instance, we spent half an hour online with a turing test, yielding such poetic nonsense as this:

Verizon FiOS is the latest in fiber-optic technology. It delivers laser-generated pulses of light, riding on hair thin strands of glass fiber, all the way to your front door. When FiOS meets your computer, you can get broadband Internet at blazing-fast speed.

And much more than half an hour at the construction site, anxiously watching things fall into place. We’re still in the boring-but-necessary phase, working on things like heating and cooling. Still, what was on the ground last time is now hanging from the ceiling. Progress.


During the holiday I’ve been in California which has allowed Rena and I to meet in person and work through things over breakfast. Today’s list was “furniture, website, welcome kits, and January event.” On that last one: we will be accepting pre-sales for memberships from late January onwards. If you want to be among the first to know, sign up here.


We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Heartwork, who are going to be supplying some of the furniture for Brooklyn (as they did for SF). A new color they have been developing happens to match our palette quite nicely:


Our neighbor Frankie opened his cafe recently, 66 Hope Cafe. Williamsburg has no shortage of cafes but 66 Hope has (at least!) one thing that the others do not: it’s literally across the street from us, which is great because it means we’re not alone, and there’s a nice place to hop over to if you need something a little different. They have nice plants.

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Allen Tan captured the same spirit in a different context: “Institution-making is a messy process, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.” That’s a notion worth starting the new year with.

Makeshift Brooklyn Week 012

Week 012 felt like this:

We’re the ribbon of magnetic tape feeling the dual forces of big picture strategic issues on one hand and minute details on the other. So in other words, we’re like every other small business. I’m not telling you which fan represents which side.

This week was door locks and security, pricing, reciprocal use policies, paint colors, brand and positioning, alliances, Ruby on Rails, construction planning, special inspectors, TR-8s (not to be confused with T-8s), and choosing your battles.

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This is soon to be a kitchen and, in the distance, a second bathroom.

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Grinding down some exposed metal so it’s not a safety hazard.

The most important part of the week was meeting with our general contractor, Gabe, to review all of the drawings and make sure we have a mutual understanding of the scope of work.

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Welcome to the team, Gabe!

The most surprising part of the week was a late-friday phone call that could have ended in lawyers but didn’t – not yet anyways. Point one for pragmatism and civility.

I enjoyed a coffee with Ryan Jacoby of Machine, a group that helps small companies think bigger and big companies act smaller. If we’re lucky, Machine and Makeshift will find a way to collaborate in the new year.

Friend-of-Makeshift Chiara Camponeschi released volume two of her book Enabling City which you can download from the book site (v1, v2). Both books focus on the way that new potential is being squeezed out of democracies the world over and are filled with examples of clever, hopeful, provocative projects. From the introduction to volume two this Italo Calvino quote from Invisible Cities is relevant to us as we think about Makeshift’s role in the cities that it is part of: “You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” It’s a reminder that we must be an answer, maybe even a wonderful answer, but never just a wonder.

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This post started with art and it’s join to end with it. Recently the New Museum announced that they too are entering the workspace game and will be opening an “incubator.” Welcome, New Museum. Let’s get drinks.

Member Mentions


Kate Koeppel of Skill Exchange fame just launched an online shop. Her first product is a collection of laser cut wood record dividers. Everything from the letterpress packaging, screen printed boxes, and product is designed and produced in SF. If you find yourself scouring record stores in your spare time and your collection is growing out of control, these alphabetical dividers will be able to help you find your Joy Division or Roxy Music albums in a jiffy. This would also make a great gift for the holidays for the vinyl hoarder in your life! Kate was recently interviewed by Design Feast where discussed further details on Skill Exchange and her new wood record dividers.

Risa Culbertson, of the two year old stationary line Papa Llama, recently moved her letterpress machines into a new space at the Heath Ceramics building on 18th and Alabama. She will be having a launch party in the new studio to celebrate this Thursday December 5th from 6pm-9pm. I recently visited her in her new space with her studio mate The Aesthetic Union, who also did the packaging for Kate Koeppel’s record divider packaging and boxes. It is a lovely space and I was able to see all of their machines up close and personal, even a big ol’ letterpress machine from the 1800’s!

Member Ali Price of Lydali was named a finalist in the Ethical Fashions Source Awards. The Source awards put the spotlight on best practices in the fashion industry, from field to final product. Lydali were selected for the Retail Award for Independent Boutique/Sustainable Brand Platform category. The winners will be chosen at the reception at the House of Lords in London, UK this month. We are rooting for you, Lydali!