Check-In to a Workspace Designed for Checking Out

Each Breather is designed to reflect the aesthetic of its city and neighborhood; here, the industrial vibe fits right in in NYC's Flatiron. Photo by Allyson Lubow.
Each Breather is designed to reflect the aesthetic of its city and neighborhood; here, the industrial vibe fits right in in NYC’s Flatiron. Photo by Allyson Lubow.

Breather, if you haven’t heard, is a mobile app that gives you access to “Breathers”: spaces that can be booked by-the-hour, designed to delight, inspire, and help you to chill out. As the company continues to expand (they’re up to nearly 30 spaces in NYC alone), we touched base with co-founder and chief creative officer Caterina Rizzi to find out more about their approach to designing and sharing space where people actually want to spend time.

How does the Breather team spruce-up the spaces to enable relaxation and productivity?

We transform traditional offices into cozy getaways complete with lounge and work areas. Each space comes with free WiFi, chargers, plenty of electrical outlets, a jar of Tootsie Rolls, and a selection of carefully chosen books and quarterlies. In some cases, we have spectacular views and in others, you’ll find free coffee or a white board. By including all of these little touches, our members are able to use the space to catch up on work while traveling for business, brainstorm with colleagues, use it as an space to host meetings, or decompress after a long day. Simply put: it’s a great alternative to noisy, disruptive coffee shops.

A light-filled Breather in San Francisco. Photo by Adam Hoffman.
A light-filled Breather in San Francisco. Photo by Adam Hoffman.
What makes a Breather space a Breather space?

Certainly, there is the convenience factor – that at any moment, you can open the app on your phone, book a space, and check-in at a moment’s notice. Beyond that, there are elements of curation – a design aesthetic – that comes together to create an experience. We combine neutral colors, soft lighting, lush fabrics, interesting oddities, and, in some cases, the work of local artists so that it almost feels like an extension of someone’s home.

What do you look for when evaluating potential spaces to list? What makes it a good fit for Breather?

We look for commercial spaces in high traffic areas in metropolitan cities. Ideally, the spaces have significant natural light, interesting details, and are a good size that allows you to have a small meeting or just kick back by yourself.

You’re in NYC, SF, Montreal, and Ottawa now. Where else would you like to expand?

Our goal is to open spaces in every major city, so for us, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. In the near term, we’re coming to Boston, D.C., and Chicago.

This – the ByWard Market Breather in Ottawa – is one of Rizzi’s favorites. The building is nearly 100-years-old. Photo by Paul Ting.
Do you have a favorite?

The ByWard Market Breather, in Ottawa [pictured above], is exceptional – it’s got great bones. The space is nearly 100-years-old, and has exposed brick, original wood beams, and a skylight. It was important for us to play up these aspects during the design process, we played with a lot of neutral tones and rugged textures to complement the space.

This Breather is located in the heart of Montreal. Photo by Sophie Gauthier-Mehlman.
A Breather in the heart of Montreal. Photo by Sophie Gauthier-Mehlman.
What’s the best way, in your opinion, that you’ve heard of somebody using the space?

We’re lucky to have a community made up of some of the most influential people in the world – we see venture capitalists, lawyers, famous actors and musicians, designers, yogis, creative entrepreneurs, hypnotists, and life coaches using the space. It’s hard to choose one!

Do you have lots of return customers? Like, Joe loves one specific space in NYC and shows up every Monday?

Absolutely! It’s a great space for companies to host interviews or start-ups to have meetings – as a result, we have tons of members returning again and again – in some cases, even a few times a week.

For more scoop on Breather and how you can use it, check out their website.

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