The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) building in New York opened its doors in May 2013 and bills itself as a 24,000 square foot home for change-makers and companies dedicated to social good. The company was founded in 2004 in Toronto, and offers co-working spaces, a community center, and “launchpad for people who are changing the world.” Their New York location (inside the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea) features 35 private offices, 60 private desks, and about 200 “hot desks.” CSI also includes a communal kitchen, a living room space, 5 meeting rooms and a modular event space that can house 20-200 attendees. CSI and its members host regular events and workshops, all of which are open to the general public.
Toronto CSI expat Matthew Cohen helmed the office’s unique, whimsical design. Matthew’s directives: the space should have a cozy and fun vibe, allow for flexibility, promote “forced collisions,” and showcase locally sourced talent. “Social innovation can’t be divorced from responsible building practices,” he claims. “It’s why everything you see in the office had a former life.” He’s referring to CSI’s abundant use of repurposed materials: from derelict doors repurposed into meeting tables to a vintage apothecary transformed into kitchen cabinets in their communal area, CSI features some of the most quirky, funky, office decor you’ll find in Manhattan.
“CSI has a unique energy,” explains Mark Monchek, one of CSI’s founding members and Chief Opportunity Officer at The Opportunity Lab. “It’s got a positive atmosphere, an open attitude and a second-home feel that make it different from other coworking spaces.”
The Centre for Social Innovation’s NYC program manager Evan Shulman, designer Matthew Cohen and founding CSI member Mark Monchek provided Convene with an insider’s tour of the space and graciously granted us an exclusive interview. Take a look at the video below to learn more about CSI’s unique interior design, their mission to promote social innovation, and what they imagine the workplace of tomorrow will look like.