Dream Big provides support to entrepreneurs who do not normally have access to it, a key part of which is providing a physical resource center to meet with mentors and collaborators, work on projects, and unwind. For their first resource center, Dream Big rented a storefront in Brownsville, Brooklyn with 3 Black Cats, a family bakery from the neighborhood and Dream Big entrepreneuers, as their first tenants. They asked Mapos to create a flexible space that included a full-service café and bakery and a co-working space where Dream Big entrepreneurs – and others from the neighborhood – could work, conduct meetings, host events, and serve as a home base for the community. Being a non-profit, they also requested a design strategy based on reuse and economy.
Mapos quickly developed a scheme to create an open workshop for the young minds in the area. By reusing as much of the existing materials and elements as possible, the Resource Center conveys a feeling of a “start-up garage” supporting the budding businesses.
Mapos hosted a presentation and working session in the empty space with members of the community, which generated several design ideas for the programming needs of the space. The back holds flexible work and meeting areas for the entrepreneurs, anchored by a large conference room, which can be separated from the space with a glass-paned garage door for private meetings. The 3 Black Cats bakery, a first-of-its-kind business in Brownsville, occupies the front of the Center with a custom-designed café bar, built-in booths, and tiered seating.
Mapos designed the bakery and café counter as a concrete sculpture, rising out of the floor with colorful tiles highlighting areas for display, point-of-purchase, bar seating, and an integrated planter. Behind the counter, the tiles continue to a custom designed graphic and menu board for 3 Black Cats.
The fluorescent lights were removed and relocated, some hanging vertically as repurposed pendant lighting. Mapos also designed other feature “chandeliers” from off-the-shelf electrical components. The ceiling tiles were removed and installed on the walls as pin-up boards. Interspersed with the tiles are chalk boards for brainstorming and note-taking. The café walls are now useable, changeable surfaces displaying the thoughts and ideas of the community entrepreneurs.