“It was a dark and stormy night….”
If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a character in a Raymond Chandler detective novel, don your fedora and wield your briefcase (or rather, laptop) and visit The Idea Collective in Footscray.
The Idea Collective is a co-working space located behind a mysterious looking door at the Footscray Mechanics Institute on Nicholson Street. You even need a secret code to get in!
Once you punch in the code, head up the stairs to what used to be the billiards room for the members of the Institute. About sixty years ago, the billiards room was divided and half converted into offices.
In 2013, those offices were transformed into the first co-working space in Melbourne’s west.
“I launched The Idea Collective because I was a freelance designer working from home, and I found the experience somewhat isolating and lonely,” explains founder Liana Lucca-Pope. “I missed being part of a community of professionals and wanted to share a workspace with like-minded people.”
So she found the derelict, abandoned offices inside the Footscray Mechanics Institute and along with her husband, set about completely renovating the rooms and filling them with quirky design ephemera.
“The decor draws inspiration from the almost crime noir-like feel of the space,” laughs Liana. “I wanted it to be a creative hub yet highly professional, all while retaining an awareness of the history and philanthropic identity of the building.”
You can still spot the gold lettering of the former tenants – a law firm – etched onto the windows of what is now a unique space for business owners and freelancers to work.
“I launched The Idea Collective because I was a freelance designer working from home, and I found the experience somewhat isolating and lonely,”
In late 2019, Liana launched a second campus of The Idea Collective at 80 Paisley Street Footscray. To complement the architecture of that site, Liana designed the interior to be more neutral than the Nicholson Street campus.
“The second site at 80 Paisley Street meets the needs of different business owners,” explains Liana. “The meeting room has audiovisual and presentation equipment set up for corporate meetings, while the consulting room is perfect for therapists who don’t need a space full time.”
In 2021, Liana and Fiona Johnston from Seddon Coworking teamed up to create Coworking Westside, a business initiative supported by Maribyrnong City Council. With funds from the Council’s Business Improvement Grant, local small businesses and freelancers have been able to access subsidised coworking at three sites across Footscray and Seddon.
“Coworking Westside is unique because it’s a collaboration between essentially two competitors,” says Liana. “But Fiona and I wanted to join forces because, for us, community is everything.”