The Commons is made for work. Like its other co-working spaces around Melbourne and Sydney, the one on Wellington Street, Collingwood, is abuzz with startups, freelancers and creative agencies working together on collaborative projects or buckling down away from the traditional office format. What sets The Commons apart is its design – which is elegant and forward-thinking, but also warm, inviting and approachable. That’s something the team at Flack Studio, which created the Wellington Street space, knows well.

“[The Commons] just loved our residential work,” says studio founder David Flack. “Any time we do a commercial project, we always apply our residential tactility and feeling to a space. There’s a lot of warmth and beautiful tactility with the materials that we chose – everything was quite restful.”

Among those harmonious design elements, you’ll find a karaoke room, a podcast studio, a movie theatre and other communal spaces designed to allow workers to decompress or catch up outside the desk environment. And now, directly below the co-working areas, is Commons Coffee – a new ground-floor cafe and reading room designed by Flack Studio and open to the wider community.

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“It’s a hive of activity away from above,” says Flack. “I think Melburnians in particular are accustomed to using the cafe as another meeting room, and that in itself is an extension of what The Commons is about.”

Commons Coffee is a strong addition to Collingwood’s healthy hospitality scene. The twist is in the book-lined shelves that fill the space – it offers more than just a place to sip a flat white. “It was always meant to be a place of sharing. That’s the idea of having all the books there,” says Flack. “Knowledge is wealth. It’s the most beautiful thing you could offer someone, isn’t it?”

Flack Studios has applied the same design touchpoints here as to the co-working rooms upstairs, in a building that already captures the imagination with its exposed larch-timber beams and concrete ceilings. “We wanted to honour the base build,” Flack says. “So you’ve got all these solid oak shelving units and accents of kalamata, which is this beautiful burgundy colour.” The centrepiece, though, is the counter – a striking design inspired by an Italian espresso bar.

“The counter is this beautiful U-shape,” says Flack. “I was in Milan in 2022 at this old espresso bar, and I just loved that profile so much … That spawned the idea for the detailing.”

As with the spaces upstairs, Flack and the team have given equal weight to aesthetics and utility. After all, for many this cafe will be seen as an extension of the office. “There’s a big communal table where you can plug in laptops, there’s great lighting, there’s a little projector space and there are little nooks. I think the nice thing is it feels intimate but it’s not fully open and exposed, so there are little places to explore and enjoy."

Though Commons Coffee will undoubtedly be a convenient haunt for the workers upstairs, the space is designed to be more than that – a community hub for locals of all stripes. “The nice thing about The Commons is their connectivity to the broader community,” says Flack. “It’s a very welcoming space. I think it was actually a really unique opportunity for them – to have something open to anyone, whether or not they’re part of The Commons.”