DTLA Arts District Space: Dwellers Work, Create and Do Life Together

As We Dwell, located in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, is not your typical coworking space.

Yes, there are plenty of tables, outlets, and speedy wi-fi available, but the art on the walls, macramé wall hangers, and handcrafted jewelry on the shelves are just a few signs that catch the attention of passersby and point to an inspiring, collaborative community of artisans within.

DTLA Arts District Space

As We Dwell, which opened its doors on January 2 this year, operates as a creative coworking space during the week. The tables are occupied by Inspiration Dwellers who, for a $375 monthly fee, have designated desks, personal work storage, and 24-hour access to the space.

There are also Creative Dwellers, who for a $150 monthly fee, can work at a community table during operating hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, all month. Freedom Dwellers are daily dwellers who pay $20 for a productive day.

All dwellers can use community supplies and materials.

As We Dwell often hosts creative workshops Saturday mornings. These workshops, hosted by Faithful Artisans, offer attendees an opportunity to learn a new skill or uncover hidden talents in the realm of creativity, whether it be watercolor calligraphy, string art, candle making, kombucha brewing, or photography.

“It’s about connecting people using unconventional avenues, cultivating a collaborative community that champions one another, and curating a dwelling place that works together, creates together, and does life together,” said Sarah Jung, Founder and Creative Director of As We Dwell and Faithful Artisans.

As We Dwell also acts as a custom venue, easily transformed to host any event from bridal showers, product launch parties, and corporate meetings, to even a church plant.

The Brooks Church launched its first service at As We Dwell on Easter Sunday.

Lori Davidson, a church plant team member, said, “I love the way this space was designed. Everything is on rollers so we can move it to make it what we need it to be for whatever meeting we’re having.”

Jung desires that As We Dwell be a place to connect not only with local creatives, independent professionals, and starting entrepreneurs but also with the nearby homeless community.

On Tuesdays, Jung and Margaret Burton, a fashion designer and newly joined inspiration dweller, go to Skid Row and set up a little arts and crafts table.

“This woman came over to the table and started drawing a fashion flat of a top and a pair of pants,” Burton recalled. “When I asked her how she learned to draw, she said she came here [from New Orleans] for fashion design school.”

Burton explained how she has tried to build a connection with the woman, Canverna, ever since.

“I asked if she would be interested in sewing again,” Burton said. “The ideal situation would be teaching her how to sew so she can get a job or make some type of product.”

Earlier this year, Jung led a special venture called “Dwelling in the City: Storytelling with our Homeless Community,” one of her first efforts to “go outside of the four walls of our dwelling place and intentionally and creatively love on our neighboring communities.”

Participants met at As We Dwell and walked over to Skid Row or Hope Central. They split up into smaller groups that had at least one artist and one person to engage in conversation.

Jung’s plan for this evening was simple: to sit with their neighbors, hear their stories, and bless them with creative artwork. They were then invited to come next Saturday for part two, which was “Dwelling in the City: Arts and Crafts with our Homeless Community.”

Jung set up As We Dwell’s workshop tables with arts and crafts supplies, waiting to see who would act on the invitation. Two men showed up; one spent his time writing rap lyrics while the other drew colorful circle patterns. Both left encouraged.

It was at this event that Burton first met Jung. Burton had quit her job working for Jeremy Scott and was planning to start a clothing line in her own apartment. She heard about Dwelling in the City’s arts and crafts session from a friend and came that night to help out.

“When I met Sarah and we worked things out, I thought it would be a dream come true to work amongst other dwellers because I just know that I don’t work well, at all, alone,” Burton shared.

“It’s only been two weeks of working here but I definitely feel more productive,” she added. Burton’s clothing line will be available for sale at As We Dwell’s storefront.

As We Dwell’s storefront currently features products from various small business owners, many of whom are Inspirational Dwellers.

“I really felt that I didn’t want it to be ‘Sarah’s space,’” Jung shared.  “Sure I took the initial burden and the jump but I really wanted As We Dwell to be a space where the other dwellers felt like it was also theirs. I wanted to make sure we were coming together, collaborating and cross-pollinating.”

Jung makes it a priority to meet with all the inspiration dwellers once a month to discuss what they are able to contribute to the space or how they can help another dweller grow their business.

For example, Mason Summers, one of the first inspiration dwellers and photographer behind Anchor Pictures, offered to take product shots. Another inspiration dweller, Nicole Calhoun of Blue Elf Succulents, led a Saturday workshop on making a mini garden. Jung and Calhoun have also collaborated by combining their products—displaying Calhoun’s potted succulents in Jung’s macrame plant hangers.

As We Dwell’s mission to cowork, create, and collaborate with each other is evident in every corner of the space.

“In the long run, I want to see these entrepreneurs and small business owners transition out of here and get their own space,” Jung said.

In the meantime, all are invited to come and dwell.

If you haven’t yet, you can stop by to look around, work, or reserve a spot for a meeting through As We Dwell’s website, ShareDesk page, and Peerspace page.

Note: This article is the first in a 3-part series about As We Dwell.

PART TWO >> Faithful Artisan: When LA Becomes Your Mission Field

PART THREE >> Arts District’s ‘As We Dwell’ Home To All

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