Is This The Mall of the Future?


The arrival of Bespoke – a combined co-working, demo and event space spanning more than 37,000-square-feet on the 4th floor of San Francisco’s Westfield Center – certainly caught plenty of attention when it opened last week. And not just mine.

A healthy mass of people turned out for the launch event, which was a serious minglefest that put a whole new veneer on the idea of working at the mall. That’s because the co-working space was not only pretty slick in terms of the actual desks and offices ($385/month and up), but it pretty much trumps any other shared office setup I’ve run across in the amenity category. There’s a climbing wall. And really, what else needs to be said? It’s worth noting that there are also sleep nooks, bocce ball and, well, the entirety of the surrounding mall-scape for your eating, shopping and money-spending pleasure.

Pop-ups and products on display from fashion tech startups such as Bow & Drape, Shoes of Prey, StyleLend, Ringly and others brought the possibility of hyper-customized style, the sharing economy and wearable tech into the evening’s mix. And really, their presence – along with a pop-up from the San Francisco-based Macy’s Fashion Incubator – were the most revolutionary aspects of the night. Just think, if the mainstream malls of America, which have for so long been places for homogeneous style and fast fashion, become innovation hubs that help support independent workers, startups, custom fashion and meetups for people interested in those things?

It’s not a bad future to imagine. Plus, you can still go to a movie, cheat on whatever healthy eating kick you’re on in the food court and ride escalators, which for some reason are all time-honored mall activities that never see to get old.

Images courtesy Dallas Willard of Orange Photography 

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