Bushwick co-working company b[x] spaces is setting itself apart by providing high-quality and affordable workspaces to a group no one else has: artists.
In repurposed factories and warehouses across three locations in Bushwick, b[x] spaces caters to the creative community by not just offering private offices and conference rooms like other co-working companies, but also studios for painters and sculptors, a gallery and lounges that members can use for meetings and presentations.
“Other co-working spaces don’t cater to artists,” said Rafael Alvarez, co-founder of b[x] spaces. “You don’t go to WeWork and see someone working on a sewing machine, someone who is doing vinyl lettering or an artist that is throwing paint on a wall.”
Alvarez, a longtime Brooklyn resident, started b[x] spaces in 2008 after leaving a career in civil engineering. Interested in pursuing independent engineering contracting, he searched for a functional workspace. Alvarez began looking into art studio spaces on Craigslist and was taken aback by their conditions.
“I was shocked that people were working out of these spaces. There was bad lighting, no heat, bathrooms didn’t have toilet paper,” said Alvarez. “I thought, I could do this. I’ll take a portion for myself and subsidize the rent by renting out to other people.”
Shortly after, Alvarez opened the first location at 44 Stewart Avenue and subsequently launched b[x] spaces with his longtime friend Vincent Benedetto. A second location at 362 Jefferson Street followed in 2011, and a third one, at 203 Harrison Place, opened in 2014.
“We are able to offer affordable spaces because we got into these areas early before they were cool,” said Alvarez.
Benedetto says their main motivation is to continue providing high-quality spaces at an affordable price to artists. Currently, rents at b[x] spaces vary from $275 a month to $850.
“It’s a common misconception that artists like working in places that are run down or poorly maintained. Those were just the only options they had before,” said Benedetto. “If you are established, it’s a lot easier to have a nice space to work out of. But it’s difficult for emerging artists to afford that.”
Benedetto, a Brooklyn native, says they also want to give back to the communities they have come into. Last year, they began working with SCO Family of Services, a family center and youth program in Bushwick.
“We partnered with them three times last year and hosted art programs for kids,” said Benedetto. “They have come to our spaces to work with professional artists and to hang up their work in our gallery.”
Recently, b[x] spaces launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of expanding to more locations as well as to get the creative community more involved in workspaces designed with their needs in mind. Creators and makers can become shareholders with as little as $50.
Their next big event is the annual b[x] spaces Spring Open Studios on March 31, during which members at 44 Stewart Ave. and 203 Harrison Pl. will present their work to the greater public.
To learn more about b[x] spaces or to schedule a tour, go here.