Irene Pereyra on co-living and One Shared House 2030
1. For those who may be unfamiliar with you and your work, what’s your elevator pitch?
We’re two former Manhattan agency directors turned Brooklyn-based hands-on designers.
2. What recent accomplishment are you most proud of, and why?
After many years of talking about producing a watch that Anton designed many years ago, we finally have our order in with our Hong Kong factory and should be receiving our limited edition run in March 2018.
3. What is One Shared House, and how did the project come about?
One Shared House is a 10-minute interactive documentary where we tell the story of Kollontai, the co-living experiment in Amsterdam in the 1980s where I grew up. Using recent interviews and archival photos and videos, we offer viewers an inside glimpse at the ups-and-downs of life in a community. At the end of the film, we invite viewers to participate by letting us know what items they themselves would be willing to share in their immediate living environment. The results of this collaborative survey are then plotted in real time and displayed as an infographic.
4. What drew you to the story after 30 years?
Whenever I tell people about my childhood, it inevitably turns into a 30-minute conversation about the pros and cons of communal living. With things like AirBnB, Uber and all the other companies allowing people to “share” much more than was possible when I was a child in the 1980s and ’90s, the “co-living” revival is interesting, but also inevitable considering today’s zeitgeist. With these two things in mind, I wanted to find out what people are actually willing to share in their immediate living environment, long-term, beyond the safety of their screens. The internet? Sure. Utility bills? Maybe. But what about the bathroom, the kitchen, or a car? And are certain age groups more open to sharing than others? How about men versus women?
5. Have you experimented with shared living since your childhood? Why, or why not?
I have not. I live alone in a converted luggage factory in Brooklyn in an apartment I absolutely adore. However, I totally 100 percent would, but the current offerings in New York are not interesting to me. Mostly because I don’t like the design or location or size of them. However, if my current apartment building had a large and comfortable communal kitchen, I would totally cook there and wouldn’t want a kitchen in my own apartment. If my building had a shared workspace, I would be much happier working from home than I am now. I think the real problem is that the offerings right now are not very diverse and I’m quite particular about how my living space should look and feel. That said, I’m about to experience co-living in Tokyo for a couple of weeks and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what that’ll be like.
6. How would you co-design a shared living space today?
I’d start by doing a lot of research on communal living, and then some ethnographic research inside intentional communities by living in a variety of them for a while and observing what works and what doesn’t. Then I’d try to figure out where the pain points are — and think of ways to make the experience of living with others as effortless and comfortable as possible. I’d collaborate with architects and interior designers on this, and consult psychologists in the process.
7. What would you be willing to share — or not?
Pretty much anything — kitchen, shower, toilet, communal space, outdoor space, internet, utilities, child-care, car, bike — except for a bedroom. That might sound obvious, but there are actually co-living facilities that do offer shared bedrooms. But that’s not for me. I need to be able to close my door and be alone.
8. What is One Shared House 2030?
One Shared House 2030 is a playful research project that aims to get insights on the future of co-living through a collaborative survey. The viewer goes through a process where they pretend to sign-up for a co-living facility in the year 2030 by letting us know about their preferences in their immediate living environment. The goal is to be able to better understand what specific demographics prefer what type of co-living. The information we collect is open-source, free for anyone to use, and completely anonymous. Besides educating people about co-living along the way, we ultimately hope that the people who actually design co-living facilities can use this data to help inform their decisions.
9. What are you seeking to explore or discover from it?
We want to be able to slice and dice information so that we can get extremely specific results based on demographics and location.
10. Why is there a growing interest in shared living, and why do you think it represents a long-term shift in thinking about how we live?
The cost of living is sky high and home ownership is now unattainable for most young people. And with our hyper individualism and online socialising, we have actually become more lonely. Co-living offers a solution to both of these problems.
Irene Pereyra is the co-founder of the New York-based design studio Anton & Irene. One Shared House 2030 was launched in collaboration with SPACE10 in November 2017.