Located just a stone’s throw from Broadway Market and London Fields, Hackney resident of over 30 years, Hugo Warner has launched The Fisheries; a purpose-built building putting hospitality at the centre of co-working. Seven years in the making, Hugo has combined the old and the new to create a community hub for the local area and beyond.
Hugo’s previous projects include co-founding and running popular hospitality group Benugo, training and working as a chef under Henry Harris at Harvey Nichols and working in the wine trade with David Gleave at Wine cellars. Hugo also opened Market Café, a local restaurant on Broadway Market in 2012 as well as several building and design led projects in East London over the last few years.
The idea to design and open a co-working space dates back to Hugo’s time at Benugo. Coming from a start-up mentality, he noticed that people who worked in large companies often had everything done for them; from reception to IT, meeting rooms to events and even dry cleaning. Meanwhile individuals, start-ups, or small business had to make do with coffee shops, bars and onerous lease agreements. Finally, after a period of working from home on his own which he describes as “utterly miserable”, Hugo was convinced that things needed to change and bought the site which is now The Fisheries. He wanted to turn the traditional concept of a landlord on its head and rather than simply taking the rent, he felt that landlords should treat people like customers, rather than tenants.
Hugo and his team have joined a small Victorian warehouse to a newly constructed building on the original site of R. Green Fisheries – from which the building derives its name – connecting the old and the new with a light and plant filled atrium and walkway. Built from the ground up the new building is home to 32 flats, sitting above a work space that has been built with its members in mind.
“For me”, says Hugo, “great hospitality means taking care of people. I think that you have to be involved in every part of the experience to deliver this, from the overall design to the finer details of lighting and soft furnishings”.
Hugo and his wife, Fran, have scoured the markets and vintage shops to put together an eclectic design that is both homely and professional, with planting that she designed and maintains. No details have been left to chance; from the hanging wicker lobster pots which have been made into chandeliers in the entrance, to the telephone boxes painted in original Royal Mail red for members to take private calls undisturbed. Even the hand painted signage has been given a personal touch from school friend Nathan Collis.
Natural light is encouraged throughout the building and each floor and zone is layered to feel like you are walking into a different environment.
“I don’t think that people want to work within one uniform space all of the time”, says Hugo, “sometimes you want to be on your own, other times in small groups of people and sometimes the best ideas come from talking with random people you’ve just met making your coffee.”
There are community desks, private desks and offices on each floor, interspersed with plenty of common areas creating what Hugo calls “water cooler moments”. Hugo adds, “Community is at the core of The Fisheries, and by creating these water cooler moments strategically located around the space linking one area to another, we have tried to create valuable opportunities for our members to interact”. Even the central stairs are designed with landings so the members can stop and chat on their way from one level to another.
In addition to the work space, there are two communal kitchens serving coffee roasted at local favourite Climpson and Son, a podcast studio and photo studio, and a multi functional events space called The Green Room, with a fully equipped kitchen to host supper clubs, charity events, members gatherings, training and presentations.
The Fisheries will roll out a program of wellness, charity, fashion and of course food and drink events and collaborations ensuring both members and non-members can make the most of the vibrant space and most importantly bring the community together. Acting as a hub to the local area, The Fisheries has already hosted a cloths sale in aid of the Australian Bush fire appeal, events for the Kids Network and The Italian Supper Club who will be hosting their Volcanic Dinner Series from January to March, as well as numerous members events.
The Fisheries welcomes everyone from freelancers to small independent established businesses and start-ups, Hugo adds, “communities are made up of like minded people, but not necessarily people who all do the same thing”. The name, The Fisheries, comes from the buildings origins but it was the obvious choice in more ways than one.
“We see The Fisheries as a spawning ground for ideas, collaboration, friendships, and where small fish can become bigger fish, or actually just be happy being where they are”, says Hugo. “Most importantly it gives us an opportunity to see people flourish, and I don’t think there us anything more satisfying than that”.
Source: The Fisheries