Polina Osherov - photographer, entrepreneur and co-founder of the design collective Pattern - will always have Paris. Specifically, the city's La Gaîté Lyrique, a seven-story center for arts and music that includes performance spaces, studios and, most importantly for this article, a resource center/incubator designed to educate and support artists - or, as Osherov might call them, "creatives" - of all stripes. She saw it earlier this year, and tucked away a hope that someplace like it could sprout up in Indy.
And a few months later, here she is, working away at The Bindery, a free, pop-up workspace open to designers of all stripes through the month - and, on display, in a sense, to the broader community, during First Fridays in August and September. It's no La Gaîté, yet, but it might get there one day. Here's Osherov: "We couldn't afford to do a feasibility study, so we figured we could do a live feasibility study and see who comes out. It's free; it's only for a month, so there'll be a low outlay of funds; and when people come out we'll get their contact info and quiz them on what they would like to see happen if there was a permanent space."
The space popped up more or less by happenstance. Pattern needed somewhere to put five interns this summer, and the Harrison Center for the Arts offered its Gallery No. 2. Then the Harrison asked if Pattern would like to do a show for August in the space. Yes, Osherov said without hesitation, but then, what kind of show? "We thought of doing something on shoes, but we thought, 'Who's going to give us their expensive $700 shoes for a month," Osherov says. Then someone offered Pattern the use of a few industrial sewing machines, for whatever and wherever, and Osherov realized it was time to try out her shared workspace idea.
She's aware of other somewhat similar spaces in town, like SoBro's Speak Easy, but that space is designed more for tech and new media entrepreneurs, she says. And designers need a little camaraderie, too.
"A lot of creatives do thrive on social contact; because many of them are self-employed and in their home offices all the time, when you do run into that brick wall where there's no inspiration, what do you do?" she says. "I think that being in an environment where people are maybe experiencing the same thing - or maybe banging on all cylinders and doing awesome stuff - could be tremendously helpful."
And if that shared space can offer resources, all the better: "I think that one of the things we could see happening if there was a permanent space is that it would become a hub for education, bringing in speakers from all over the country to talk about design, how they go about it. We feel like our community is growing and there's definitely a hunger for that kind of thing. At least from a Pattern perspective, our best-attended events are panels with well-known speakers talking about things vital to the industry. The idea there is not so much that it's a social happy hour, but that people walk away from these events having learned something new."
One of those events - a meet up in partnership with Verge, a tech startup collective, featuring precocious fashion designer Maddy Maxey - will take place at the Harrison Aug. 29. It's by invitation only; interested parties should sign up with either Verge or Pattern to learn more.
The Bindery - whose name plays on the notion of binding together Indy residents - is making its trial run during a busy time for Pattern. The fall issue of its bi-annual magazine went to the printer in August. And Osherov says she's exploring ways of raising a bit more money for the organization, via grants or sponsorships. Founded in 2010 by a group of designers who felt underrepresented in Indy media and culture, Pattern now counts 815 members.
The Bindery is going to need a little help to become a permanent presence on the map following this test drive. "I'm not a businessperson, but in my mind I feel like the city has to back something like this," Osherov says. "We're not that big of an industry that we can launch this and have it become a useful and profitable thing. It needs a helping hand to get things going. I think it could definitely become self-sufficient.