After months of renovations, riverside art hotel 1961 has become a ‘co-working space’. Boasting funky office ‘pods’, a multi-media room and a retail showroom, business partners Kurt Xu and Loven Ramos say they’re trying to create “inspiring work spaces” for the creatives of Siem Reap, complete with tea and coffee on tap, and the fastest Wi-Fi available.
“Right now a lot of freelancers, creative people or small start-ups are working in cafes, but it doesn’t really give a sense of belonging,” says Xu.
He added that people working in cafes have too many distractions.
“When you’re still starting up, every time you have to meet a client you have to go to a coffee shop and it’s not cool. It ends up costing more, and wasting more time. And sometimes the free Wi-Fi is not even good.
“We’re offering this co-working space for people to get really inspired from working with each other under one roof, and creating a nice professional working environment.”
Xu says the concept of the new 1961 is based around four themes: ‘work’, ‘co-work’, ‘network’ and ‘make your ideas work’.
First off, the duo has built eight air-conditioned private offices, or ‘pods’, which can accommodate between two and ten people. The co-working space takes the form of ‘the lab’ – a 30-metre long, open-plan office with room for 40 people. The other intention of the lab is to allow members to network and share ideas. Finally, in order to ‘make your ideas work’ Ramos and Xu have built a retail showroom, where artists or designers can display their products.
Adjoining the lab will be an in-house café serving quick, simple meals – anything from sandwiches to pasta. Alternatively, orders can be placed via the resident ‘lab secretary,’ who will be on hand to help with office needs.
Ramos and Xu are furnishing the offices themselves with the help of designers from Phnom Penh, and naturally this lends itself to a cool contemporary look.
The pod Insider saw was filled with pea-green chairs set around a glass table, while to the side a polished wooden counter gives members the opportunity to gaze out at a frangipani tree in the light-filled lab while working at their laptops.
Both the lab and the pods are set up with high-speed internet, power outlets and phone lines, and the lab also has network printing and faxes, while members can take advantage of storage lockers in which to keep their valuables.
Xu says that 1961 would like to build on its reputation gained over the last four years as an arts hub. Exhibitions will take place in the main gallery, while artists can showcase their work in the showroom.
“There are a couple of jewellery and fashion designers who are very interested in hiring spaces,” says Xu. “Also we expect the gallery to be tourist friendly so I think it will be a good opportunity to have really good selected items and attract more interest and potential buyers.”
Upstairs will be more pods and a multi-media function room for meetings, Skype conferences and screenings.
“We’re putting in very good sound systems and projection systems,” says Xu. “We really want to create a very comfortable and cinema-friendly room that’s multi-functional.”
Members can choose from daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual membership, with prices starting at $10 a day for use of the lab, including free-flowing tea and coffee and 30 per cent discount at the café.
The 1961 co-working space is due to open this month.