The Evolution of Coworking: Ampersand Studios

Coworking sites, you were the darlings of a decade ago.

Conceived in the Aughts, you quickly became the hipsters everyone wanted to hang out in during the Twenty-Tens only to suffer a premature midlife crisis thanks to the pandemic and the biggest kid on the blocks failed IPO and bankruptcy.

As a real estate concept, youre only 19, but the School of Hard Knocks kicked you into adulting.

Youve got this.

According, the U.S. supply of coworking spaces is increasing to meet demand: “ … the first quarter of 2024 registered an impressive 6% growth . This puts the current national supply at precisely 6,597 spaces and demonstrates a constant and positive expansion of the sector.

Deep, rich colors make the Ampersand coworking centers inviting and homey, creating a hospitality-like environment. Photos courtesy of Ampersand Studios unless otherwise noted

A specific growth area for the industry includes sites that serve niche needs and clientele, according

One such provider isAmpersand Studios, whose clients include those in the $250 billion creator economy filmmakers, songwriters, photographers, performers, podcasters, influencers, entrepreneurs, marketers.

I recently met Ampersand Studios founder Matthew Giles and his wife, Brittnie Giles, and took virtual tours of their flagship Miami site and new Nashville space. Lets explore this next-gen coworking concept.

Ampersand Studios Miami

Outside, palm trees might be swaying under South Florida skies, but Londons calling inside the Ampersand Studios Miami space. No pastel Sonny Crockettfabrics or tropical motifs here. Were talking rich, moody blues, browns and greens drenching walls, furnishings and floors and the feeling youve just entered an exclusive club.

Our idea was to create a venue thats very different from what you might typically see in a Miami coworking space or even a restaurant or a hotel,said Brittnie, whose interior design firm,Sandra Britt Interiors, designed the space.

Inspiration came from Matts background. He’s of British descent and grew up in Hong Kong, which was a British colony for years. So, how did this Brit wind up in Miami?

I was moving to the States from England and trying to find where I wanted to land. I’d spent some time in L.A. and New York as well as Miami, and I suppose Miami reminded me of Hong Kong in terms of the weather and the citys pulse,Matt explained.

A mix of private offices and common areas are used in Ampersand’s buildings.

With a background in real estate, Matt observed a void in coworking sites catering to creatives that hed seen in such cities as London, L.A. and New York. He found a 21,500-square-foot industrial warehouse in Miamis Arts & Entertainment District and, with Brittnies help, set about to design a unique venue.

I wanted to open a coworking space that wasnt just pretty and with free Wi-Fi, but something that could be used as a platform to help individuals and businesses in their journey, so thats how it started. Alongside that, Ive always been very interested in film and the rise of content creation, and I thought that that could be a good differentiator,Matt said.

He envisioned a full-service production studio where everything could be under one roof a large space for video and photo shoots, a smaller space for daylight shoots, a hair and makeup room and wardrobe area, places equipped with podcasting capabilities, various tech stations and private offices, and a gathering area with a bar, tables and booths for mingling and dining.

In designing the space, Matt first considered where people would naturally congregate and, conversely, need private space. However, the biggest task was carving out a large area to accommodate video and photo shoots. The building obliged with its tall ceilings and solid construction, but it needed to be retrofitted with appropriate lighting, soundproofing, a soaring cyclorama wall and other technologies.

Art plays a major role in creating spaces that feel inviting.

Once this 6,000-square-foot studio space was mapped, the rest of the floor plan fell into place, the build out began, and Brittnie and her interior design team set to work.

Subtle menswear plaids and floral patterns, dark window mullions and walnut finishes evoke a private lounge from eras past. But unexpected artwork, bold pops of lemony yellow and an entire wall painted with vertical stripes reflecting the spaces varied colors shake things up. Then, step into the large, bright, modern studio, and its like youre in the future or whatever you want to transform the set to be.

The building is multipurpose: In addition to the already mentioned capabilities, the venue can be used for brand activations and other experiential events, workshops and panel presentations, corporate meetings, private gatherings, and networking. And, of course, for flexible workspaces.

Rolling Stonemagazine rented the space for a photoshoot of Mexican singer-model-actress Danna. A Womens History Month event was held here this past March.

The reception area looks more like a living room.

Individuals and companies can rent space as needed. Resident Members those who pay a monthly fee starting at $150 – have access to the MembersLounge, while Private OfficeMembers have VIP 24/7 access to the entire building.

Matt said a client doesnt have to be a creativeto rent space.

Everyone is invited. At one point, we had a law firm that catered to creative industries using the space. Were happy to build a bit of an ecosystem naturally and organically a community of people connected by an interest in or desire to create.

Since opening in Miami in 2018, Ampersand Studios has had a consistent bank of short- and long-term clients. But, when the pandemic hit in 2020, the company like so many others was forced to rethink at least some of its business model. Although Ampersand Studiosprivate spaces continued to be used, the open areas were not. It was then that Matt ideated and started the companys & Grow program, a creative incubator that prioritizes launch services for start-ups and small businesses, including business growth support, production services, and marketing strategy and services. The & Grow program is today available at both the Miami and Nashville locations.

Choosing Miami as Ampersand Studiosfirst coworking location was fortuitous, as many people and businesses flocked to Florida during the pandemic for its open-for-businesspolicies and culture. Today, Miami is No. 11 on the list of leading U.S. markets by number of coworking spaces, according to Nashville stands at No. 21.

So, lets head to Nashville, where Ampersand Studios opened its second site.

Some of the private offices include floor to ceiling windows that let in natural light.

Ampersand Studios Nashville

Nashville is the perfect home for our second location,Matt said. We chose it for its established history in creative industries, a growing workforce, diverse economy, and business-friendly atmosphere that aligns with our commitment to foster creativity and innovation.

Nashville, of course, is a music mecca. Its often referred to as Music Citydue to its significant role in the country music industry. Its home to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Beyond country music, Nashville has a vibrant music scene that encompasses various genres, including rock, blues, jazz and gospel. The city boasts numerous live music venues, recording studios and music festivals.

Ampersand Studios Nashville is located on historic Music Row, which is at the heart of the citys country music industry and home to many record-label offices, radio stations and recording studios. As such, the Ampersand Studios Nashville emphasis tends to be music-centric but caters to other creative endeavors.

The member’s lounge can act as a workplace or a social gathering spot.

Although the space at 26,000 square feet is larger than Ampersand Studios Miami, its in a bonafide office building, not a warehouse. But no matter. Matt, Brittnie and their team found a way to retrofit production capabilities within the space. And having had the Miami venue experience, they had learned from the challenges of the first build out.

The Nashville site, which opened in 2023,offers the same amenities and capabilities as Ampersand Studios Miami, and there are subtle design touches that tie the two sites together.

I wanted it to feel like a cousin of Miami not an immediate sibling but like theyre definitely related,Brittnie said.

For example, the menswear plaid in the Miami location inspired an abstract use of color and pattern for Ampersand Studios Nashville. Large drum-style pendant lights are in both spaces, but the pattern on the drums is different. The window mullions are black, although the glass is different.

Here, the cousins part ways. In stepping inside the Nashville space, you feel like youve gone outdoors. Floor-to-ceiling windows in some areas of the venue provide a backdrop of the greenery beyond. Inside, wood beams and ceilings and pops of teal, burnt red, and blue evoke a Western vibe.

But then, Brittnie mixes it up.For example, shehad a bit of fun sneaking an Easter eggfor Matt into the design. On a vacation together, hed raved about an art installation featuring koi fish. Later, Brittnie commissioned a fabric with a koi fish pattern and used the fabric to upholster parts of the cozy booths in the Nashville space. Meanwhile, the art adorning the walls is fun, funky, lofty while the furnishings are down-to-earth chill.

Rolling Stone magazine used Ampersand’s Miami location for a photoshoot of Mexican singer-model-actress Dana. Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone and Alberto Gonzalez

Why the name Ampersand” … and whats next?

I asked Matt why he named the company Ampersand Studios.

The idea came about because of what an ampersand is and what it means in terms of connectivity so we thought, thats the glue to what our business is essentially about — connecting people,he told me.

Mexican singer-model-actress Dana during a Rolling Stone magazine photoshoot in Miami. Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone and Alberto Gonzalez

Now that he and his team have successfully launched two locations as well as the & Grow program, I asked him, Whats next?

He said hes looking at other cities where coworking sites for creatives are needed. His research has taken him to Phoenix, Washington, DC, Las Vegas and Austin, and hes pretty sure hes landed on the latter for his next venture.

We exist to house a creative culture by supporting the people who shape it. Thats why were excited to build our presence in other cities and continue to provide an ecosystem around which current and future creative communities can thrive,Matt said.