Why WeWork Hired a Fashion Designer to Guide Its Expansion


Why WeWork Hired a Fashion Designer to Guide Its Expansion



Photo:

Alexei Hay

WHEN ADAM KIMMEL halted work on his namesake men’s fashion label in 2012, it was meant to be a temporary hiatus, to focus on family life. He wasn’t walking away. Until he did.

“I was thinking in different ways as far as the clothing was concerned, maybe doing more sportswear, like a surf or skate line,” says Kimmel, now 39. “But nothing clicked with a gut feeling. It was Adam Neumann who pulled me out from under a rock, and we just started having conversations.”

Neumann, the co-founder and CEO of WeWork, ended up hiring Kimmel to be his chief creative officer, to oversee the interiors of the company’s shared workspaces, used by more than 250,000 members in 22 countries. WeWork is popular not only with freelancers and startups, but also with corporations like GE,

Microsoft
,

HSBC

and

Facebook
,

helping to push WeWork’s revenues toward $1.8 billion this year. Launched with one SoHo location eight years ago, WeWork has now surpassed

JPMorgan Chase

as the company with the most Manhattan office space.

“The success of WeWork was built on going into an office that doesn’t feel like an office,” explains Kimmel, who says he oversees some 1.5 million square feet of new space each month. He works with a team of 450 designers and 450 architects, as well as a staff of artists who create all the art on WeWork walls.

“My focus is on the physical design of the spaces and their general vibration—the materials, the colors, the art, the furniture— and I geek out on that,” says Kimmel, noting that his design passions always went beyond fashion. “This is the first thing to come along that has really fully engaged my heart.” As WeWork expands into residences, gyms and even schools, Kimmel says, “the goal of this company is to make an impact, and the only way to really do that is to carve your own path.” wework.com.

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