Maybe, until this point, thisopenspace has been on the periphery of your social experience. You’ve walked past a storefront, or a coffee shop, and have been intrigued by the happenings inside—they weren’t there last week, and they probably won’t stay long. Your first clue is a modest white rectangle affixed to the door frame declaring its affiliation: thisopenspace. The labels don’t immediately signal excited innovation, but the walls of these spaces echo the footsteps of shop owners, artists, patrons, and, perhaps most loudly, Yashar Nejati, founder of it all: Vancouver’s only spatial community marketplace.
The premise satiates a hungry market. “We connect people who have a story to tell with those who have unique spaces where ideas can grow,” says Nejati of his venture, which has been the catalyst of events including pop-up wedding chapels and two weeklong Faraday Cafes. The goal is to facilitate connections between those with room and those without, to remix the social experience of familiar neighbourhoods. This feat of collaboration didn’t begin with large intention, but having been met with high demand, the service has quickly expanded. Nejati now intends for thisopenspace to meet the needs of artists and space owners all over the world.
Nejati began his foray into temporary spaces when he opened a cafe of his own for a week in 2013, which prompted a partnership with the storefront’s leaseholder. Soon, the two began renting the space to interested parties for pop-up shops and art exhibitions. As demand grew, Nejati began to expand his portfolio of spaces available to rent by securing lots on his own time. Now a full-time venture, thisopenspace is based online in the form of a public market. “Guests can now easily connect with their hosts, open doors to distinctive spaces, and rent the perfect space for their idea,” Nejati says. He also intends to incorporate filters that will prioritize light, cleanliness, or availability, to better aid the search for the perfect space.
Since its rebrand in 2014, the Vancouver-based start-up has grown to include over 1,000 spaces, including locations in Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York. “We aim to connect millions of people all over the world in a community marketplace, providing space for ideas to grow, opening doors to underutilized spaces, activating idle-capacity in commercial real-estate,” says Nejati, adding that they have plans to expand into more cities across Canada and internationally. With feet on the ground in each catalogued city, thisopenspace seeks to maintain and support the culture and spirit of the neighbourhoods in which they reside. “Helping people tell their stories is at the core of every decision we make,” declares Nejati. Ideas are abundant, and thisopenspace ensures that creators have the space they need to, if even just for a week or a night, take these ideas from conception to reality.
UPDATE, December 2018: thisopenspace has rebranded as Uppercase.
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