SAN FRANCISCO – Co-working spaces that are very different from traditional leased offices like WeWork continue to evolve in cities like San Francisco.
While there's plenty of commercial real estate available, one newly launched place aims to build community by partnering with local artists and many more.
Maya Kandell has been sculpting statuettes since she was a child. These days, crafting "desk buddies" is becoming her livelihood.
"The idea is that they bring joy that they draw your attention and you look at them and you go that's cute and then you look again and you think something weird is happening here," Kandell said.
Her latest series "Monsters of San Francisco" has caught peoples' attention. For the first time in her artistic career, her work is on display and being sold in a retail space.
"A lot of my artwork is in the realm of things that are weird whimsical and fantastical," Kandell told KPIX
Her newfound success sprang forth because of a chance encounter with Teddy Kramer at a craft fair. The former WeWork employee was set to launch a new co-working space and needed artwork.
"Her work brings people in off the street. We constantly get people asking, what is this place? But the initial conversation is what are those? What are those desk buddies and coloring books? I'm able to tell her story and she's able to tell our story," said Kramer, founder of the Neon space in San Francisco's Cow Hollow.
Kandell said, "It does feel like it's allowed me to level up and in terms of my own career."
Helping new immigrants in East Oakland obtain citizenship is also Kandell's passion, working for the nonprofit East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.
"This group of people is the most dedicated and motivated I've ever worked with," she said
In her new co-working space, she's found a mini art-studio and hosts classes in the evenings.
It's Neon's vision to build community, even after work hours, by connecting people with new interests.
"To be able to be productive but also to engage with one another, to battle loneliness, to battle the challenges the pandemic created," Kramer said.
A Stanford University survey shows 7 out of 10 workers ages 30-to-39 say they do not want full-time remote work. The demand for co-working spaces without required memberships, is bringing new faces into the space every day.
"The best thing I get to hear when people come inside is they go, 'I've been looking for something like this,'" said Kramer.
For an up and coming artist, Neon is opening a new door. Kandell keeps what she makes. Neon doesn't take commission. But it's much more than that.
"For people to be able to come here every day and experience them and for them to bring joy to other people makes me really happy," Kandell said
It's even giving four legged friends, a comfortable space, to see colorful artwork, and connect with others in the community.
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