When I entered desk chair coworking space in the heart of downtown Loveland I not only had mid-century modern shown to me in every detail, I felt the hope of the era through the design in a way that was more than skin deep. The aesthetic style emphasizes horizontal lines and a clean, open flow in the use of space. Equal parts sleek chrome and comfy gray upholstery, desk chair’s look nails mid-century modern not just in aesthetic but in meaning. The shared office is a destination for northern colorado workers in technical and creative industries.
The website says, “Work how you want: at a sit/stand desk or take your laptop to our spacious lounge area or catch some sun at one of our outdoor work areas.” The way I see it, this “customization” is just corporate-speak for freedom and independence. Just past the front doors I check out the recently installed post office letter boxes and admire their ornate, vintage brass fronts. Each member gets one and desk chair will recently be renting them out like classy P.O. boxes for off-site companies without brick and mortar. Like a lot at desk chair, this is just another example of aesthetically pleasing efficiency. What at first glance might look like a stylish gimmick turns out to be completely practical, forward thinking, lucrative, and sleek. Everything at desk chair looks made for it, which fits well with their ethos of versatility, customization, and concierge service.
Sales Manager, Jim Doherty, says they aim to provide “concierge level support” which is a sexy term apt for such a lofty but labyrinthian space. The etymology of “concierge” comes from the French comte des cierges, or “keeper of the candles,” a staff member who would provide castle residents and visitors with guidance and access. And desk chair is like a castle; it has a tower, secret rooms, and a full gym in the basement.
Before becoming one of the first coworking spaces in Loveland, Linda Ligon, owner of Interweave Press, a fiber arts publisher, sold her business and sold the First Bank building to Loveland developer Doug Erion. While on my tour Jim told me about growing up in Loveland and how he remembers the building well since it is centrally located on Cleveland and 4th in the heart of renewing downtown Loveland.
Doug Erion, who owns several buildings and spaces nearby, including a studio rental space called Artworks Loveland, had been eyeing the bank for a long time and quickly began the extensive three year renovation process. Inspired by what he’s seen at behemoths WeWork and Galvanize, he took a risk in bringing coworking to Loveland.
His team knocked down the back wall of the bank to connect to the building behind it, they built in a bar, a mezzanine, and a gorgeous rooftop patio. When the office space was finally ready to welcome in workers, publisher Linda Ligon was so impressed she currently rents a space for her new company in the building she used to own.
Jim Doherty came on at desk chair during the long renovation. “Doug [Erion] really stuck his neck out with a space like this in Loveland,” Jim tells me. But the existence of desk chair correlates, or perhaps contributes causally, to Loveland’s renaissance from a “little bedroom community” to a thriving small town with restaurants, breweries, and community events. Not only can desk chair coworkers benefit from the downtown location, the city of Loveland has benefitted from several ticketed events hosted by desk chair. Local celebrity appearances by local authors, climbers, and notable community members are hosted occasionally and local artists show their work in the halls.
Jim said desk chair wants to be “a conduit of change for the whole community.” In less than a year the ways desk chair is accomplishing this goal are apparent. One way they have been a force for good in the community is that several coworking members used to commute to IT jobs in Boulder and Denver before their companies, in keeping with a commitment to respect the environment, allowed them to work closer to home at desk chair.
With the monthly meet-and-greets where each coworker introduces themself to the others, daily three p.m. pours of beer or wine (included in membership), and many spaces and times to socialize, there’s little opportunity to be a loner. The Five Tables cafe serves healthy grab-n-go food to the public and coworking community alike. Several meeting and conference rooms can be used by any member by the hour.
The common spaces serve as part coffee shop work space and part socialization area. As Jim and I chat the colorfully dressed editorial staff of NOCO Style, whose six employees share a suite at desk chair on the mezzanine, celebrate the Friday afternoon with small plates, wine, and animated conversation. While some members of the virtual office are just coming in (desk chair is a 24 hour office space with some international coworkers) and a few are finishing up private calls in the soundproof phone rooms off the lobby, many have taken part of the day off.
The camaraderie at the bar is evident as coworkers share their daily pour before heading off to the weekend so I ask Jim if he had a revelatory moment where coworking’s benefits were suddenly clear to him. He has dozens, he says. Once when a realtor had a code compliance issues with a home she was closing on, she ran down the hall to the roofer to get it taken care of immediately. When graphic designer and desk chair original member, Sara Seal, told her coworkers she was looking for more work she brought on five of her coworking peers as clients.
Betty Maisenbach, Marketing Specialist at desk chair, says “ I couldn’t be happier. It is absolutely stunning here. For me, the white, clean, mid-century modern vibes help clear my mind. It really helps me explore my creative space to write and design.” I agree with her. From the private rooftop patio you can see the clearest view of the front range I’ve ever enjoyed.
Natalie Scarlett is a freelance writer, editor, journalist, and teacher in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is the founder of Huckleberry Writing and Cipher Creative Productions. In addition to loving all things literary she directs original film, theater, and movement pieces. Her writing has been published in Splat, Aspect: Ratio, Mid-American Review, and (Salt) Arts and Culture Magazine. She likes to write about Fort Collins local color, immersive theater, and any kind of art.