Gallery + Kitchen: Always Something Cooking in A SPACE

“I love [A SPACE’s] Kitchen! Didn’t know there was a place here in Greenbelt where you can rent a kitchen and an area for dinner!”

Junior MasterChef: Pinoy Edition finalist Louise Mabulo practically shrieked in glee as she shared a moment. She was then doing prep work as a participating Breville Philippines ambassador to cooking summit Madrid Fusion Manila. The culinary wunderkind is just one among the slowly growing legion swooning over A SPACE’s spiffy stainless steel Kitchen. But in spite of its stature, the popular coworking-hub and activity space is farthest from conducting their business like business; they pride themselves more in fostering a sense of community for creatives and innovators. In a quick sitdown, A SPACE Community Attaché Rafael Fuchs-Simon, fast-talking, no-BS key member of the self-styled “tribe of awesome,” encapsulates the venue’s philosophy in a short elevator pitch, saying, “It’s an unconventional work environment for innovative people and communities.” Perhaps key in this is the idea not just of workspace but of work environment (of ecosystem, if you will) that takes into account how a person’s working life is also, first and foremost, a life.   

To further cultivate this well-roundedness, A SPACE has started promoting venues within their structure that concurrently function as communal spaces, smaller-scale country-club nooks which offer more opportunities for socialization and creativity. One of them is the aforementioned Kitchen, a fairly new space that is something of a cross between a commercial kitchen and a home kitchen. “It’s not as big as a commercial kitchen; but anyway, in that kind of situation, there’s very little room for people to collaborate, to hang out, to experience what’s happening. In a home kitchen, on the other hand, it’s not big enough. We’re just about right.,” Fuchs-Simon elaborates on its size before launching into a discussion of its brief but already storied history. The A SPACE Kitchen hosts private sit-down eats, gourmet food demos, kitchen coworking, cook-offs, and even shoots for YouTube cooking shows. It is a laboratory, war room, and social space all rolled into one. “It’s just a box with toys inside. You need people around to play. That’s when the magic happens,” A SPACE CEO Matt Morrison, meanwhile, insists, ever so modestly.

The same work ethic is at play (wink, nudge) at the Gallery, an art gallery and events space put up by A SPACE as a way of, once again, encouraging like-minded “disruptors” in society—artists, writers, freelancers, tech startups — to commune and gather rather than quietly co-exist. The spot used to be an eighty square-meter boardroom, but has now been breathed new life as a veritable artistic clubhouse, a focal point for countless meetings-of-mind. “Any other entity would have looked at it in terms of how many people they could cram in there, but we decided to turn it into a community space,” Fuchs-Simon says proudly, and goes on to catalogue the said venue’s goings-on, which includes talks, social mixers, yoga, capoeira, doodle meets, and mini-concerts, not to mention, obviously, art shows. Wolfgang frontman Basti Artadi’s first exhibit, Kalat, did well there, and so did shows by Piaget Marcelino (I Come in Peace), Archie Geotina a.k.a. Chichimonster (Alpha Omega), Coco Torre (Café Manila), and Inez Moro with Elly Giron (Through Lens and Layers), among others. “The art shows we put up are usually for upcoming artists — talent who are debuting or who might have had shows in the past but have not done solo exhibits — a place where we allow them to blossom,” the A SPACE Community Attaché shares.

Another group the A SPACE serves well with its Gallery venue and new _Palet Makati space is the tech community, artists in their own right, whose brush and palette are codes and ideas, but that’s of course horribly oversimplifying things. They are part of an almost-mythical sub-species of creatives whose sleights-of-hand produce life-long improvements on culture as we know it. In more youthful parlance, tech peeps rock, and we always reap the benefits of the intellectual investments that they sow. The Gallery is home to tech hook-ups, social-media meet-ups, and hackathons, to name a few activities. In fact four of the largest hackathons in the Philippines in the past year took place in these very confines, with AngelHack and AT&T’s having 300 attendees scattered over twelve to fifteen competing teams vying for the top prize. “The things we bring to the table are all about how to make the best ideas possible,” Matt Morrison says, ticking off more names in his venue’s impressive list, including StartUp Grind, which hosted a pitch-plus-chat fest, and HackerNest, which held tech-geek meet-ups a handful of times and has always left their halls impressed and refreshed. “We found A SPACE to be a perfect fit for a bunch of chill, diverse, technical people. The HackerNest crowd felt right at home [there]. It’s a refreshing experience to be diverted from our typical tech-office venues. The unique atmosphere and the dynamics between art and technology brought about a synergistic, creative energy in the room,” a rep from the group testified.

“Most of the time, I don’t even know what’s going on. I just know it’s awesome,” Morrison jokes, but you somehow know he’s just being oh-please about the whole enterprise.