It takes a village, they say, to raise a child. These days, however, there aren’t many villages to begin with – ways of working now typically sequester individuals physically and mentally. While that may work in some industries, it is a drag on others, particularly in the creative arena. Next Story Group is aiming to change that. With the launch of Kafnu, the company is aiming to reinvent and reimagine shared working spaces. CMO Morris Sim imagines a holistic series of spaces that will cater to every necessity to working well – from swanky meeting rooms to fitness centres, from sleep pods for a quick power nap to spa-shower facilities to refresh, and a craft beer bar for some liquid inspiration. The goal is to place the individual at an optimal mental space, so they can go forth and change the world.
On the typical Kafnu client
Anyone with a desire to create — and who has a certain sense of wonderment about the world and a destiny about themselves, that’s not being fulfilled in their current workplace. Kafnu spaces are ideal for people in the media, technology and design industries.
On similarities with AirBnb and the sharing economy
We often ask ourselves why the sharing economy has occurred. While Airbnb plays a role in hospitality, why are there also so many freelancing jobs? Why has Uber become so important? There’s clearly a global need for both efficiency and the greater good in communities, and that’s what’s inspired Kafnu. We have to reimagine what it means to build the right type of spaces and services for people who want to be part of something, and help them get there. It does require a different approach – something more intimate and creative — and that’s what we’re excited to unveil.
On merging hospitality and real estate
Originally, hospitality was not a real estate business: it was about understanding the customer and providing the exact services he or she needed. With Kafnu, we are going back to the roots of hospitality. By putting our members in the middle of everything, it’s about creating an undeniably great experience, rather than an ROI on per square metre.
On the Kafnu difference
Kafnu is much more than a co-working space. While it offers space to work, that’s just one part of the overall offering. Kafnu’s unique selling point is how it brings together everything that an entrepreneur or creator needs to work, live, learn, play and refresh – all under one roof. Companies like Google and Facebook provide everything their employees need in their offices so employees can be their best selves, but these facilities have been inaccessible to entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists and creators. Kafnu will bring these spaces to everyone.
On launching the Kafnu ‘villages’ in Hong Kong and Taipei
Hong Kong and Taipei are cities with active communities in the technology, media and creative sectors. There are also lots of entrepreneurs who frequently travel back and forth between the two cities. The Kafnu spaces themselves are highly individual, optimised for the particular needs of each city. While there are some standards across all Kafnus, they are highly flexible and adaptable.
On his career
I started my career as a product developer. In launching Brand Karma, we also built products — I’m a builder at heart. The team at SilverNeedle also has building in their DNA – there was great chemistry and enthusiasm across our collective teams to define and create the future of urban spaces. This led us to launch Next Story Group. For me it’s been rewarding to take some of what I have learnt and match it with what I know about customers today.
On his ideal space for work, living and play
I love to be in a space where I’m inspired by what’s happening around me, even if I’m not directly participating in it. The creative energy, so to speak. When I work, if I sense design, commerce, music, style and interaction all around me, I’m more creative than if I’m sitting by myself in an office. We’re big believers in blending work, live and play together. Each floor in our spaces is curated to have a unique blend of offline and online, communal and peaceful, vibrant and muted. If you need a quiet conference room, we have that, but if you want to work or play amidst the energy of others, we provide that too.
On his role in a village
I think the days of one person playing only one role are over. I’d have a blended role, just like our spaces!