“The true goal is in 50 or 100 years to be mentioned in the same sentence as those like MIT Media Lab or the restaurants where famous French artists use to dine—these special places in history that have meant a lot to people,” say Alma cofounder Fredrik Carlstrom. Alma, a coworking and community space in Stockholm designed for artists, musicians, and other creative types is on the forefront of history. Touted as the anti-WeWork, Fredrik, who grew up in the city, has created a sophisticated, curated, and holistic experience, one that provides “enriching content and intellectual nourishment” to its members.
But what sets Alma apart from other coworking communities like Soho House or The Wing? For Fredrik it’s all about the overall experience, that magical synergy that is site-specific and has to be experienced to be fully understood. The “sterile, fairly anonymous” product that is, say, a WeWork, which currently has 847 locations throughout the world, “obviously fills a certain need and is competitive on pricing,” but he feels it’s generic.
Through his various business ventures, from his first advertising job right out of high school to launching Scandinavian showroom Austere in Los Angeles in 2014, he’s always taken a “holistic approach that focuses on all touch points” and has seen the way communal spaces can truly transform entire neighborhoods.
At Alma, which is located in a building that for many years was home to Beckman’s School of Design, the Swede has reimagined its five stories with help from architectural firm Tham & Videgård to include dedicated work spaces, a music studio, outdoor terrace, and even a restaurant. Filled with custom-built furnishings from brands like De La Espada and Fredrik’s Austere, plus ceramics from local galleries and more, each piece at Alma celebrates Scandinavian living at its finest. You won’t find an inspirational quote or neon sign here.
Continuity reigns with elements like the terra-cotta tiled flooring, an integrated shelving system, and pendant lights. Plus, he called on Scandinavian designers like Hans Wegner and Ilse Crawford. “I wanted it to feel sophisticated,” he says. “The Stockholm crowd has a bit higher appreciation for design, and I wanted to make sure it was something they hadn’t seen one million times.” How you get something truly special? “It’s the combination of communal spaces with programming, delicious food, and great events that normally is reserved for really big corporations or universities,” Fredrik adds.
Profitable within its first six months, Alma is continuing to grow its membership base and offerings. Plus, Fredrik is currently renovating a historic Stockholm movie theater—the city’s last single-screen theater, to be exact—something which may seem like an odd choice, but for the filmmakers, poets, and product developers of Alma, having a theater to showcase their work in is invaluable.
He’s also looking to explore other cities. Mallorca, for instance, has a “huge renaissance of creatives, those who have retired early, are writing a book or have changed careers.” And like in Stockholm, the Alma there will be for coworking but focus more on the social side. Fredrik also has his sights on New York City with a much smaller, 2,500-square-foot loft in NoHo, which will include a kitchenette, communal working spaces, and an expansive living room. Each will fill “different needs within differing communities,” he says.
And if you are still not convinced that coworking is the way of the future, “current data suggests that 30 to 40% of today’s employees will eventually be working remotely,” and coronavirus has enacted a potentially permanent shift in how we work and could make remote life—including working from a coworking space instead of an office, once it’s safe to do so—the norm sooner rather than later.
💡 Design It Yourself: WFH Style
Keep the palette soothing. It’s hard to believe anyone would want their work space to feel chaotic, especially now. So pick your most tranquil colors. At Alma, the colors include a lot of teals, blues, and grays, but if yellows and greens are what make you feel serene, find a slew of accents to bring that into your WFH zone.
Look to favorite designers and then make it your own. Fredrik looked to favorites like Hans Wegner and Ilse Crawford when finding the look of the space. Still, he knew he didn’t want it to be a copy of something you’ve seen before, so he combined certain ideas and details in different areas throughout Alma. Pick your inspiration and make room for deviation.
Don’t eat at your desk. It’s easy to forget about mixing up locations when you are confined to your house. Even if you live in a cramped studio, try to carve out separate spaces for eating and working. Here, there are long, communal tables, but you can turn a little side table into an elegant dining situation with a little vase and placemat. No matter your scenario, make the little moments between work feel special and thoughtful.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest