Recently when we headed to Forge & Co in Shoreditch for a working lunch, we ended up downstairs in the gallery, surrounded by beautiful unseen images taken at Woodstock in 1969. It was then that we realised this new hangout is much more than just a social workplace. Intrigued, we spoke to founder Cymon Eckel to find out more…
Can you tell us a little bit about the initial ideas for Forge & Co? What did you set out to achieve?
Our vision is simple: we live in an ‘always-on’ culture, where people’s work and social lives come ever closer together, so we created a space in which that can happen. A flexible workspace, a bar and canteen to hang out in, event spaces and galleries, all in one centrally located venue. We aim to add to the community and play a part in developing ideas.
Why East London?
Because the opportunity for a start-up like our business still exists in east London. To build great things you need energetic and creative people; east London provides that.
With an abundance of members clubs opening in London of late, what makes Forge & Co different from the rest?
It doesn’t cost any money to be a member at Forge & Co, and our membership is open, it’s not restricted at all.
It’s a tool to bring people together, geared towards building a community of like-minded people. We respond to that community, creating events for it and extending Forge & Co beyond its own four walls.
Talk us through the cultural events… Why is it important for Forge & Co to inspire its members and bring them together?
Forge & Co is based around the concept of ‘social working’ – the residents don’t just work alongside each other in the office floors, they band together in the Lounge, Canteen and Gallery. Publishers can hook up with app developers, and fashion labels with communications teams. The creative and technology industries have worked apart, maybe even at odds with each other, for too long. Some co-working spaces even specify that they only cater to fashion businesses, for example, or purely to tech companies. Forge & Co aims to be inclusive and encourage cross-pollination.
Why these seminars, talks etc? How do you go about curating the events?
Our speakers are often multi-disciplinary and think beyond a prescribed remit. For instance, app developers Brothers & Sisters have branched not only into content but also into product, making their own kids’ clothing range. Cathy Olmedillas’ Anorak magazine is a niche print magazine, launched when everyone was declaring “print is dead”, that deals widely in brand extensions.
The same goes for the Gallery shows. Danny Passarella, exhibiting at the end of July, is an established fashion designer who’s made art photography about technology. Modern Toss, exhibiting from late September, are former journalists who’ve produced TV shows alongside quirky kitchenware! Not only does this make for very compelling exhibitions with wide appeal, it encourages our residents and visitors to be ambitious.
Can you tell us a bit about Forge Masters?
It’s simply us grouping the seminar speakers, our podcasters and playlist curators together under one name. They’re people who’ve achieved what our residents and members are out to do – establish thriving, interesting businesses – and they provide inspiration too.
What would you like to see the place achieve?
To play a part in peoples lives, to be part of their trajectory, and, very simply, for people to say: “let’s check out Forge & Co.”
Forge & Co’s next exhibit is photographer Danny Passarella’s first solo show. Centred around the surreal additions of vintage arcade machines, he gives the project a video game/sci-fi surreality and beauty.
To find out more about cultural events or to become a member, head to www.forgeandco.co.uk